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New Florida budget supports education, environment

Budget includes $1,000 bonuses for teachers, law enforcement
Posted at 10:31 AM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 12:05:12-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed the state's newly passed budget at a restaurant in New Smyrna Beach.

During a signing ceremony in New Smyrna Beach, DeSantis said the $101.5 billion budget supports K-12 education "more than the state has ever done."

That includes $1,000 bonuses for school district and public charter school teachers and principals, as well as increasing the average minimum teacher salary to $47,500.

"That will make us one of the top handful of states in the country," DeSantis said. "Now we're getting closer to being one of the better states."

All told, the new budget allots $22.8 billion for K-12 education, including $120 million for in-school mental health initiatives, a $20 million increase over last year.

"We will be signing a budget that responsibly supports our men and women in law enforcement, our K though 12 education, students, and teachers," DeSantis said. "Conserves and protects our great environmental and natural resources."

The budget also includes $1,000 bonuses for first responders throughout Florida as a thanks for their sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the budget allocates more than $625 million for environmental causes, including more than $415 million for Everglades restoration projects and $302 million for targeted water quality improvements.

"This is really significant," DeSantis said. "This is a central issue for our state."

Some other highlights of the budget include:

  • $326 million to continue Florida’s response efforts for the COVID-19 pandemic
  • $10.3 billion for transportation investments and projects
  • $28 million for Florida’s military presence and families
  • $37.5 million in cybersecurity improvements

DeSantis said the success of Florida's budget came from good legislatures, as well as the Sunshine State keeping schools and businesses open over the past year while many states remained locked down.
"The result was our economy really started to rebound," DeSantis said. "We obviously believe having a healthy economy undergirding [the budget] really makes an impact."

However, the Florida Senate Democratic Caucus attributed much of the success of this year's budget to President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress for passing the American Rescue Plan.

The caucus released the following statement about the fiscal year 2021/22 budget:

"A big chunk of the $10 billion from the federal stimulus act added to a bounty of transportation and economic development projects all over the state. The money even allowed the governor to dole out $1,000 bonuses to law enforcement, firefighters, and other front line emergency workers."
Senate Democrats went onto say that DeSantis "never once directed thanks to those who made this possible" as he "took his victory lap to hand out the bonuses."

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