Florida Lawmakers Plan for Gas Tax Suspension in Budget Deal

The Republican-controlled legislature is expected to approve the budget Monday

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Florida lawmakers have reached a deal on a record $112.1 billion state budget proposal after weeks of negotiations, agreeing to pay raises for state workers and a gas tax suspension before the November election.

The Republican-controlled legislature is expected to approve the budget Monday.

Lawmakers were forced to extend the 60-day legislative session because of lengthy budget negotiations and state rules that require a 72-hour cooling off period before they can vote on the spending plan. This year's session has been dominated by bitter debates on legislation involving abortion, critical racetheory and education about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The budget raises the minimum wage for state workers to $15 per hour and all state workers will get a 5.38% pay raise to account for inflation. It would also give public defenders and assistant state attorneys a $5,000 to $10,000 pay increase, boost the minimum salary for state law enforcement officers to $50,000 and raise the minimum salary for teachers to at least $47,500.

“This budget invests in the workers who serve our state and her people," Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson said in a statement.

The budget bill hits on many of the priorities laid out by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in his budget proposal made in December, in which he pushed for worker pay raises and a five-month pause on the state's gas tax, which he said was needed to offset rising gas prices and inflation he blames of President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Lawmakers instead agreed to suspend the gas tax for one month, in October, and plan to recoup the lost revenue with federal coronavirus stimulus dollars. Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel said lawmakers chose October, just before the election, because there are typically fewer tourists in the state at that time.

Proposals to suspend gas taxes have gained momentum nationwide recently as gas prices rise to record highs after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

DeSantis, who is running for reelection and is considered to be a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has final say on the budget bill.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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