JACKSONVILLE (CBSMiami) – Governor Ron Desantis has included increases in teacher pay and student spending in budget recommendations for the next fiscal year.

During a stop at the Jacksonville Classical Academy, the governor laid out an overview of his recommendations and said the state is in a good position to follow through with them.

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“We’re at a very strong budget position, our reserves are incredibly healthy, particularly given what people were projecting when COVID first hit. Every month we tend to bring in significantly more revenue over the revenue estimates. And that’s a function and really a reflection of the strength of Florida’s economy,” he said.

DeSantis said since becoming governor, his administration has been invested in increasing teacher pay, invested in early learning, expanded school choice, and invested in vocational-technical education.

“So our education budget this year is going to have a lot of wins for families, for students. For teachers, I’m proud to say that we will be including $600 million to continue to boost teacher pay, we’ve been doing that the last two years, we’re going to be able to do it even more. This is the highest level we will have done over the last three years,” said DeSantis

The governor said their goal is to increase the average minimum salary in the state to attract great people into the teaching profession.

“When I became governor, the average minimum salary was around $40,000. Now it’s close to $47,000. With our proposal, we’re going to be in a really, really good spot, certainly one of the top 10 in the country and we may even be in the top five in the country,” said DeSantis.

The governor they’ve also had great success with bonuses for teachers and principals.

“We were the only large state to have schools open in person for the entire school year. I think we had a lot of principals, a lot of teachers, that worked very hard and did well. So we were able to do $1,000 bonuses for 177,000 total principals and teachers across the state of Florida. I’m happy to say that we are going to be including those bonus payments in this budget for next year,” said DeSantis.

He said when it comes to spending on students, his proposal is a record-setter.

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“Our budget will have a record of per-pupil funding, we will have $8,000 in per-pupil funding. That’s the highest amount that we’ve ever had in the history of the state of Florida, we will be increasing the base student allocation by $124. That is the largest increase in nearly a decade in the state of Florida,” said DeSantis.

Another item in the budget is $421 million for school safety and mental health initiatives which includes money for school hardening grants and money for safety initiatives, particularly for Jewish day schools.

“We also are going to have in the budget $15.5 million to use to replace the FSA with our new progress monitoring system. That’ll be recurring funding because the progress monitoring tools are more interactive, they’re more nimble, they provide more feedback in ways that are helpful for parents and teachers and for students,” said DeSantis.

The governor also said the budget also includes more money for civics and civic engagement.

“We’re going to be investing another $500,000 to the Florida civics and debate initiative to expand access to the program into every school district in the 2022-2023 school year. This is in addition to the $106 million investment in civics education that I announced earlier this summer, which will provide teacher bonuses for any teacher earning the Florida civics seal of excellence. And I think there’s going to be a lot of teachers that are going to want to do that. We think it’s going to be a very powerful program,” said DeSantis.

The budget will also include money for vocational training.

“To further our efforts to make Florida the number one state for workforce education, we’re including $534 million to support workforce education program, that includes $100 million for the new workforce development capitalization grant program that will create and expand workforce development programs at Florida school districts and at state colleges,” said DeSantis.

The governor said they e want to make sure that people have the tools that they need to succeed.

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“I think that continuing to boost teacher pay, do these bonuses, make sure that we have workforce education, civics, all these things, replacing the FSA with progress monitoring, you know, it’s a really, really robust agenda. And we’re happy that we’re able to do that. We’re happy that we’re going to be able to continue to give Florida students the ability to succeed.”

CBSMiami.com Team