Governor Rick Scott said he wants a 5 percent pay raise for state law enforcement officers included in next year’s state budget, reflecting a demanding 2016 when the governor said first-responders “were put to the test like never before.”
The $11.7 million proposal would cover 4,000 sworn officers across nine state agencies, including the Florida Highway Patrol, state fish and wildlife officers, and employees of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Scott said June’s mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub severely challenged state law enforcement agencies, which later in the year also responded to a pair of hurricanes and a tropical depression that swept across parts of the state.
The governor also noted that he has been to the funerals of 32 officers who died in the line of duty since he took office in 2011.
“I’ve cried with their families and seen the pain and grief in their eyes as they laid their loved one to rest,” Scott said in announcing the initiative at FHP headquarters in Orlando.
“Becoming a law enforcement officer is a special calling and one that requires a conscious choice each and every day to put your life on the line to protect our communities. We must always do everything we can to recognize our law enforcement officers and let them know how much we appreciate their service.”
The proposal is the first roll-out of portions of the governor’s 2017-18 budget blueprint, with the full document expected to be unveiled next month in advance of the legislative session, which begins in March.
Prospects of a pay raise for the state’s entire, 113,000-person workforce likely will be part of a House-Senate budget battle next year.
While House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, warns that the state’s budget picture is tighter than economists predict, Senate budget chief Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, has pledged to provide some kind of raise for state workers.
The state’s full work force has drawn only one pay hike in the last 10 years, increases in 2013 of $1,400 for workers making under $40,000 a year and $1,000 for those making more. The last straightforward, 3 percent pay raise came in 2006.
Even the increase three years ago, for many, only partially offset what they’d lost when in 2011, Gov. Scott and the Republican-led Legislature ordered state workers to contribute 3 percent of their pay to their state pension fund.