Lawmakers file bills that would raise starting teacher salaries to $65,000, but where would the money come from?

by | Jan 25, 2023

  • A pair of lawmakers filed legislation in the Senate and House, respectively, that would increase starting teacher pay to $65,000. 
  • Currently, Florida’s starting salary is $48,000. 
  • The bills were filed as a means to combat the worsening teacher shortage, which has seen a 21 percent increase from a year ago.
  • Questions arise about how the sweeping salary increase would be funded, however.

Sen. Lori Berman and Rep. Jervonte Edmonds filed companion bills respectively in the Senate and House on Tuesday that would increase starting teacher salaries in Florida to $65,000.

In accompanying statements, the lawmakers claim that the filing seeks to bring Florida teacher salaries more in line with the national average of $65,090, citing the National Education Association.

For the 2022-23 academic school year, Florida’s starting salary is $48,000.

The motions are brought forth amid a worsening teacher shortage across the state. Following a review of each Florida school district’s website, the Florida Education Association reported that there are 5,294 teacher vacancies and 4,631 support staff openings posted as of January 12.

“We believe that if we increase the starting salary for teachers in Florida, we will be able to attract and retain more qualified and experienced teachers,” said Edmonds.

According to studies inquiring why educators are exiting the profession, factors contributing to the shortage consist of low pay, high levels of testing, and the lack of support for new teachers.

The shortage is particularly acute in certain subject areas like science, math, special education, and English as a second language, which has led to ballooning class sizes and a minimized pool of qualified teachers.

The state has taken several steps to address the shortage, like offering signing bonuses and tuition reimbursement, but a deficit remains.

Earlier this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a ‘Teacher’s Bill of Rights,’ that would allocate $1 billion to increase pay for teachers across the state. If adopted, the proposition increases funding for teacher salaries by $200 million dollar compared to the year prior.

DeSantis also laid out provisions to grant school districts the autonomy to choose how to prioritize or allocate the extra funding, including minimum teacher pay standards or teacher recruitment efforts.

“We want to make sure we’re focused on what’s important,” said DeSantis. “If teachers are doing what they need to do to be the best they can be, we want to reward that.”

While the pieces of legislation may be appealing to those in the field, an immediate question jumps out: where is the funding for a nearly $20,000 starting salary increase coming from?

In recent years, residents of several counties statewide including Palm Beach and Orange counties voted to implement an increased property tax to subsidize school costs.

In Palm Beach County, where 74 percent of voters chose to renew the tax in November, raised funds will primarily be used to increase teacher salaries, but will also partially subsidize student mental health resources, public safety officers, and school art and music programs.

School District officials expect to raise more than $200 million by 2026.

In Orange County, property tax revenue comprises 49 percent of its operational budget, according to officials.

Though property tax revenue would raise immediate funds in order to subsidize the cost of salary increases, it would need to be adopted statewide by voters and implemented in a system that is able to equitable disperse funds through the state, which seems unlikely.

Another option for funding is through the state budget.

Rounding the number of vacancies reported by the FEA to 10,000 and operating under the assumption that new starting pay would increase by $17,000, it would require $170 million dollars to raise the starting pay for all openings to $65,000.

This perfunctory math problem underscores the level of financial commitment necessary to unilaterally raise teacher salaries, as it doesn’t even factor in the currently-serving teachers who make less than $65,000 that would presumptuously need to receive raises as well.

The Capitolist attempted to reach Sen. Berman, Rep. Edmonds, and the Office of the Governor seeking further details about the financials of the bills but did not receive an immediate response. 


  1. Rick Warrener

    A $20,000 increase for Florida ‘s 150,000 teachers would cost $3 billon. That would be a great down payment on the $8 billion needed to bring Florida’s funding from 45th to the median along the states.

  2. Bryan Harper

    Desantis/Florida already has an underfunded FRS issue. The governors budget proposal calls for employers (districts) to add an additional 3% to what is already contributed. Sensible, but it takes a bite out of FEFP.
    Across the board raises to a $65,000 floor will make that problem even larger and also require funds. You also have to match the Soc Sec and Workman’s Comp….Rick Warner’s $3 Billion calculation above just got a little bigger.

    Now, lets talk about the elephant in the room, I have been teaching for 31 years in central Florida and $65,000 is literally just a few thousand shy of my contract this year. What are you planning to do for your experienced workforce? Are you going to give a first year teacher a $15,000 raise and give me nothing? The resentment that your veteran teachers currently carry is growing, you give this to the new folks and nothing for the veterans that have carried this state since the 2008 melt economic meltdown, you will have a mass exit…. you will have no one left to mentor and train the new teachers. Trust me, the group with 10-25 years is really fed up.

  3. C

    Your reporting should include that while starting salaries are $48,000, no effort has been made to pay veteran teachers more. My salary after 20 years isn’t much more than that.

  4. Jessica Love

    Actually starting salaries in Volusia County is only $47,500. I took a pay cut to come here and I am having hard time getting the motivation to stay with the lack of pay, increased work load, and lack of support. Hopefully they are able to do something about this because even though I’ve worked as a teacher for 7 years, I make as much as a new hire which is INSANEEE.

%d bloggers like this: