TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida House approved an education budget proposal Thursday that would raise Florida's minimum teacher pay to more than $46,000 and eliminate the state's controversial 'Best and Brightest' teacher bonus program.
It would not, however, establish a replacement program being championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, and some Democrats have concerns about a new school funding formula.
Here's five questions asked and answered about the House proposal, what supporters and critics have to say about, and what happens next:
1. How large would the minimum teacher pay increase be?
Under the House proposal, base pay would increase by $9,500, just $500 short of the target the governor has been asking lawmakers to meet.
The hike has bipartisan support and is aimed at recruiting more teachers to Florida, where starting pay has long lagged behind the national average.
2. Why is 'Best and Brightest' on track to be eliminated?
The program, the roots of which can be traced to former Gov. Rick Scott's first term, has lately faced withering scrutiny over its method of basing bonuses in part on the SAT and ACT scores teachers got when they were still in high school. DeSantis is proposing what he says is a more equitable redesign wherein bonuses would be based in part on school grades.
But that idea has faced criticism, as well, and the House education budget doesn't contemplate a replacement program. Instead, school districts would receive a cumulative $150 million to spend on padding the pay of veteran teachers who wouldn't benefit from the base pay increase.
3. What are the implications of the plan's school funding formula?
As with prior funding formula changes, the proposal in the House education budget is drawing heat from some lawmakers who say school districts in the areas they represent stand to lose hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
While counties like Miami-Dade would see large increases in their share of state school funding, Manatee and Osceola could lose significant funds.
4. How is the Senate approaching public school funding?
The Senate's education spending plan also includes a starting teacher pay increase and omits a replacement bonus program. While the topline figures differ from the House plan, the two chambers are in relative agreement on the broad parameters of school funding.
5. What happens next?
Now that both chambers have passed their respective education budgets, negotiations on a compromise spending plan can begin. There are just over three weeks remaining in the legislative session.