TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Governor Ron DeSantis announced his Freedom First Budget proposal Thursday for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The budget totals just shy of $100 billion with total reserves exceeding $15 billion.
The Governor’s Office said the budget will include record funding for education, environmental resources and law enforcement.
Florida ranks third in the nation for K-12 achievement according to the latest Education Week rankings. Governor DeSantis said he will continue to support teachers and schools through the new budget which includes:
- An increase of $50 million in funding to raise the minimum K-12 teacher salary to $47,500,
- $238 million for one-time $1,000 retention payments for eligible full time Florida teachers and principals,
- $1.4 billion in funding for early child education,
- $406 million for Florida’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program,
- among others.
The Freedom First Budget will also allocate an additional; $30 million for the safe schools component of the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) and $5.5 million for the Youth Mental Health Awareness and Assistance Training.
Florida’s higher education system is slated to receive $1.3 billion for Florida’s state colleges and $2.7 billion for Florida’s state universities. The budget provides approximately $122 million for Florida’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities including $90.3 million in operating funds for Florida A&M University.
In addition, $35 million in state funding will continue the Open Door Grant Program, including $15 million for School District Workforce Education Institutions and $20 million for Florida College System institutions.
DeSantis said that the Freedom First Budget does not include any tuition or fee increases for Florida’s
colleges and universities.
The full education budget can be found at Freedomfirstbudget.com
DeSantis said he is committed to supporting those who serve Florida’s communities, adding his Freedom First Budget includes:
- $226.7 million to provide raises for those working in public safety
- The budget will fund 25% raises for all veteran state sworn law enforcement and 20% salary increases for entry-level state sworn law enforcement,
- A $5,000 signing bonus will be awarded to every recruit who is new to the law enforcement profession in Florida once they become a law enforcement officer,
- A free State Officer Certification Exam to law enforcement officers relocating to Florida,
- A law enforcement academy scholarship program to cover the cost of enrollment for men and women seeking to serve their state through police work.
DeSantis is also proposing more than $100 million to go towards National Guard which includes:
- $87.5 million to build three new readiness centers, and
- $5.1 million to fully support Florida National Guardsmen seeking higher education degrees among others
The Governor’s Office said the protection of Florida’s environment remains a key focus of the Freedom First Budget. As part of the more than $4.4 billion in funds allocated to protect Florida’s environment, more than $980 million could go towards the restoration of the Everglades and protect Florida’s water resources.
The budget also invests $3 million to remove invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades and over $550 million to increase the resiliency of Florida’s coastal and inland communities.
Finally, The governor’s budget invests more than $151.7 million to protect Florida’s prized properties and waters including $51.7 million for infrastructure improvements and natural resource management at our award-winning state parks.
A full list of investments can be found at Freedomfirstbudget.com.