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Governor’s new budget proposal includes pay hike for corrections officers

By Tami Stevenson

Governor Rick Scott rolled out his 2017-2018 budget proposal yesterday, called “Fighting for Florida’s Future” that includes more than $45 million to increase the pay to workers in Florida’s correctional institutions.

In a phone conversation with the Suwannee Valley Times, Governor Spokesman McKinley Lewis told the Times most of that, $37 million, will go to increase the base salaries/entry-level guard positions by 8.5 percent while captains, lieutenants and sergeants would receive a base salary increase of 10 percent, if approved by state legislators. The plan also includes $2.5 million for corrections officers with special certifications that work in mental-health.

The plan proposes an overall $618 million in tax cuts. A press release from the Governor’s Press Office stated the following:

Tax and Fee Cuts
As part of the proposed tax cuts, the budget proposal would include decreasing the tax on business rents, providing a one-year sales tax exemption on college textbooks, cutting the business tax, exempting school book fairs from the sales tax and implementing a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday, nine-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday, three-day veteran’s sales tax holiday and one-day camping and fishing sales tax holiday. The release stated the budget also includes $8.1 million in additional annual fee cuts for Florida’s seniors, teachers, veterans and businesses, all while maintaining the quality of services provided.

It recommends $85 million for economic incentives for the sole purpose of bringing more jobs to Florida and supporting small businesses.

Nearly $21 billion in state and local funding through the Florida Educational Finance Program (FEFP) for Florida’s K-12 public schools which equates to $7,421 per student. This is the highest total funding, state funding and per-student funding for K-12 in Florida’s history.A historic $6.6 billion in total funding for higher education in Florida which includes increased funding for the Bright Futures Scholarship program. There are also NO tuition increases included in the budget.

$360 million for water quality projects which includes record funding once again for Florida’s springs of $65 million and $60 million for the new Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee Clean-Up Initiative; and $225 million for Everglades restoration.

More than $1 billion in mental health and substance abuse funding, including $18.7 million for community-based behavioral health services; a record $632 million to provide core services to children who depend on Florida’s child welfare system; and more than $7.4 million to remove everyone off of the critical needs waiting list at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) for the fourth consecutive year.

$102 million to support active military, veterans and their families.

Governor Scott said, “I look forward to working with the Legislature this session to make Florida the best place in the world for our future generations.”