Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday unveiled a $74.2 billion budget for the coming year that includes a pay raise for school teachers as well as a $1,200 one-time bonus for state workers.
"This billion dollar investment sustains last year's billion dollar investment in K-12," Scott said, noting that's a $400 per student increase in spending over last year.
While his budget proposes spending $6,800 per student, that is less than what it was when Scott took office two years ago due to increased enrollment.
The Republican governor is also recommending eliminating nearly 3,000 state jobs, primarily by privatizing positions in the state prison system, and would use the savings to give one-time $1,200 bonuses to other employees.
Police unions say the governor’s plan doesn’t go far enough to fund existing positions.
"They have taken a 5 percent cut if you add the contribution to the retirement system plus the 2 percent payroll tax," said Matt Puckett of Florida Police Benevolent Association. "So we would like to see an increase to their base salary."
The governor also wants to freeze university tuition this year, and put $118 million in the higher education budget to make that happen.
"That's a bargain the (university) presidents and Board of Governors are willing to make," said University of Florida President Bernie Machen.
Scott did not recommend whether or not Florida should accept federal aid to expand Medicaid to people who are just above the poverty line. He said that he is still unsure on whether the state should move ahead.
State lawmakers will use Scott's proposal as a framework for a final budget that will be passed during the session that starts in March.