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Florida House lawmakers crunch numbers on teacher pay raise

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – House lawmakers took their first look into raising teacher salaries in Florida Thursday.

Teacher pay raises have been one of the biggest asks from the state’s largest teachers union for years.

“Put something into salary. Something people can rely on. Something that allows them to buy a house,” said Martin Powell with the Florida Education Association.

Finally, in September, the union was met with good news from Governor Ron DeSantis.

“We are going to do something significant on teacher recruitment and compensation,” said DeSantis.

The Governor is asking lawmakers to increase starting salaries for teachers to $47,500 a year.

Florida currently ranks 26th in the nation for starting teacher pay.

Under the Governor’s proposal, Florida would move up to number two.

The House subcommittee took a deep dive into the current state of teacher compensation.

The average Florida teacher makes just over $48,500 a year, with the highest average pay in Monroe County at nearly $60,000.

Gadsden County has the lowest average pay at just shy of $38,500.

Chair Chris Latvala made one thing clear.

“Everything is on the table so to speak,” said Latvala.

Members of the committee seemed to favor an across the board pay raise over just raising starting salary.

“I met a teacher recently who has been teaching for 15 years… and is making $48,000 a year. So she would be making $500 more than a brand new teacher,” said Latvala.

Finding money for a pay increase will be challenging.

Hurricane costs and fear of an economic slow down have lowered revenue projections by $867 million over the next two years.

“We have to make sure that the money is there and we’re going to do everything that we can to find it,” said Latvala.

The chairman sent committee members home with a homework assignment: Find a way to repurpose $520 million to make the pay raise possible.

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