- Rep. Jervonte “Tae” Edmonds has reintroduced a bill in Florida to increase minimum teacher salaries to $65,000.
- The “Save Our Teachers Act” would amend current state law, raising the minimum wage from $47,500 to $65,000. Existing bonuses and raises for teachers would be retained, according to the representative.
- The funding source for the significant salary increase is unclear; it could potentially come from increased property taxes or the state budget, but there are challenges in implementing either option.
Rep. Jervonte “Tae” Edmonds refiled a bill on Tuesday that would raise minimum teacher salaries in Florida to $65,000 if adopted. Ahead of the last Legislative Session, Edmonds and Sen. Lori Berman filed legislation that sought an identical salary increase for educators.
Entitled the “Save Our Teachers Act,” Edmonds’ bill amends current state law to raise the minimum wage from $47,500 to $65,000. The motion is brought forth again amidst a teacher shortage across the state and country, though positive trends indicate a slight remedy to the issue. Upon filing the bill last January, Edmonds specified that any bonuses or raises accrued by teachers would be retained despite the rise in pay.
“Salary increases prior till the bill would remain in effect,” he said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “So if you are a teacher that had a 5k salary increase you would retain that increase on top of the pay increase of 65k.”
While the legislation may appear lucrative 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 last 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. Similarly, 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 disperse funds through the state, which seems unlikely. Another option for funding is through the state budget.
Rounding the 4,776 vacancies reported by Florida’s Department of Education last week to 5,000 and operating under the assumption that new starting pay would increase by $17,500 ($47,500 to $65,000), it would require $87.5 million dollars to raise the starting pay for all openings. Attempts to garner financial insight on the bill with Rep. Edmonds’ District and Capitol offices went unanswered.