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President Office — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 3, 2014

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229,
Britton Alexander, (850) 487-5184


Senate Passes Budget Focused on Education, Tax Relief and Reserves

Unprecedented Education Funding, $500 Million in Tax Relief, $3.2 Billion in Reserves

Tallahassee —

The Florida Senate today passed House Bill 5001, The General Appropriations Act, as amended with Senate Bill 2500, placing the Florida Legislature in posture to begin the 2014-15 Budget Conference. Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart), Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, released the following statements.

President Gaetz:

“Today the Senate approved funding for a number of priorities outlined in the joint House and Senate Work Plan 2014 agenda. Funding to enhance services at Children’s Advocacy Centers, to facilitate the maximum current year expansion of the Guardian Ad Litem Program and to serve more Floridians on the Agency for Persons With Disabilities critical needs waiting list are all key components of our combined effort to protect Florida’s most vulnerable citizens. Additionally, our budget rewards our state universities that cement the link between education and jobs and allocates funding for increased student access to Career and Professional Education (CAPE) industry certification opportunities in order to advance the House and Senate efforts to expand economic opportunity through education.”

Chair Negron:

“Our budget represents a common sense spending, saving and investment strategy for the state. We allocated funding to provide critical services for our most vulnerable, strategic investments in our state infrastructure and $586 million to shore up the Florida Retirement System. Just as important as what we funded in this budget, is the revenue left unspent. We set aside over $3 billion in reserves, which total more than 10 percent of general revenue and prioritized a $500 million broad-based tax cut that will impact Florida families and businesses for years to come.”

Budget Overview

The Senate Budget totals $74.9 billion including $27.4 billion general revenue (GR) and $47.5 billion in trust funds (TF). The budget funds $586 million for the 2014-15 unfunded actuarial liability of the Florida Retirement System, sets aside $500 million for recurring tax relief and $3.2 billion in total state reserves.

Reserves include $1.5 billion Working Capital, $214.5 million for a Budget Stabilization Fund transfer (Fiscal Year 2014-2015 transfer), $922.8 million in the Budget Stabilization Fund (estimated June 30, 2014 balance based on anticipated transfers), and $573 million in the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund (estimated June 30, 2014 balance). Reserves total 10.1 percent of General Revenue. The Senate Budget also includes a pay increase for the state court system totaling $9.7 million GR and $321.4 million for maintaining and building education facilities.

Criminal and Civil Justice

The budget funds the Criminal Justice Estimating Conference’s (CJEC) prison population forecast for the Department of Corrections in Fiscal Year 2013-14 and Fiscal Year 2014-15 and also funds District Courts of Appeal critical maintenance and repairs, security enhancements, and partial construction of new District Court of Appeals building, $10.7 million GR.

The budget funds Guardian Ad Litem staffing to support the Program’s plan to serve all children in dependency; $6.1 million GR, 105.5 FTE, and funds Children’s Advocacy Center services, including medical team services, $4.5 million GR. The budget funds the PACE Center for Girls expansion, $2 million GR, and CINS/FINS expansion in underserved areas, $3.4 million GR.

Education

State appropriations for education total $18.7 billion ($14.3 billion GR; $4.4 billion TF), excluding appropriated university tuition and fees. Total funding for education, including local revenues amounts to $29.7 billion ($18.7 billion state funds; $11 billion local). The budget does not include a tuition increase for state colleges, universities, or district workforce programs, nor does it require a local millage increase.

In K-12 Education, funding for the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) is increased by $651 million or 3.56 percent, a per student increase of $175 or 2.58 percent. The enrollment workload increase of $99.6 million was funded with GR. The K-12 budget also includes an additional $30 million for high school and middle school industry certifications, $40 million for the Digital Classrooms Allocation and at least $90 million to expand the extended day program for intensive reading to 300 elementary schools.

The budget for Florida’s State University System includes $200 million in performance funding, $100 million in new funds (TF), and a $100 million reprioritization of base funds (GR).

To increase student access to higher education opportunities, the budget provides a workload increase and a student level award increase for the FRAG, $22.7 million GR and the ABLE Grant, $2.4 million GR. The budget also provides a student level award increase for Bright Futures, $25 million TF a 9.4 percent increase, and an FSAG increase of $25 million TF.

General Government

The budget funds citrus research and the Budwood Program with $2 million GR and $4 million TF; Florida Forever, $40 million TF; water infrastructure, $42 million, GR; state parks maintenance and repair, $19.6 million TF; local parks, $3.2 TF; and beach restoration, $27.4 million GR and $21.8 million TF. The budget also funds the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin, $77.1 million GR and $50.7 million TF.

Health and Human Services

The budget includes funding to transition wait list individuals to the home and community-based services waiver (approximately 1,400 individuals) through $8.1 million GR, $11.9 million TF and funding to serve additional clients in the long-term care managed care program (approximately 1,136 individuals), $6.6 million GR; $9.7 million TF.

The budget increases PACE slots, $1.9 million GR; $2.9 million TF, and includes funds to serve frail elders waiting for Alzheimer’s Disease services (392 Slots), $4 million GR. Funding will also serve additional clients in the community care for the elderly program (601 Slots), $4 million GR and civil commitment facility capacity for violent sexual predators, $1.5 million TF.

The budget will provide substance abuse services for pregnant women, $10 million GR; children’s mental health Community Action Teams, $8.1 million GR; adult community mental health funding, $4 million GR; domestic violence services, $4 million GR; and adult/children community substance abuse funding, $3.6 million GR.

The budget also doubles the personal needs allowance (currently $35 per month) for Medicaid patients living in nursing homes, $9.1 million GR; $10.9 million TF; provides for the phase one construction of new state veterans’ nursing home, $11 million TF; and funds ongoing maintenance and repair of state veterans’ nursing homes and other domiciliary, $7.8 million TF.

Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development

The Senate budget includes $8.7 billion for the DOT Work Program and $226.3 million for state and local affordable housing programs. The budget also provides $75.5 million for economic development incentive programs and $117.7 million for our economic development partners (EFI, Visit Florida, Space Florida, etc.)

The budget includes funding for additional positions at the Florida Highway Patrol, $3.1 million, 25 FTE. The budget also makes a significant investment the arts, culture and history by transitioning funding for state libraries, cultural programs, and historic preservation grants from non-recurring to recurring. In total the budget funds: state aid to libraries, $22.3 million GR; library cooperative grants, $1.5 million GR; cultural and museum grants, $7.6 million GR (of which, $5.5 million is recurring), cultural endowment grants, $6.9 million GR; cultural facilities grants, $7.1 million; and historic preservation grants, $10 million GR (of which, $1.5 million is recurring).

For more detailed information, please visit www.FLSenate.gov.

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