Politics

House Budget Adds $1 Billion for Education; Doubles Tourism Marketing

By: Jim Turner | Posted: January 27, 2012 3:23 PM
The House released Friday a proposed $69.2 billion budget for the next fiscal year, a slight increase from the current year, and matches Gov. Rick Scott’s call for $1 billion in additional funding from the current year for Pre-K-12 education, but not the full amount of his call for Everglades restoration efforts.

The House budget proposals, which will be taken up by the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, would allow agency heads to offer up to 10 percent performance-related bonuses to state employees, decrease health care spending by 0.18 percent, provide $25 million for biomedical research, maintain funding for libraries, nearly double the money for Visit Florida, and give the governor $73 million for economic incentives.

House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Merritt Island, said Thursday he expects the budget to go before the full House the following week and that he isn't pressing his Senate counterpart to do the same as the Legislature is only in the third week of the 60-day session.

"Our job is to do what we can do, which is pass the House budget on time, and we're going to do that," he said. "I'm hopeful we can put that together as we approach later in the session."

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, told reporters Tuesday his chamber may not release its budget allocations for several weeks.

“I want some more information from the individual budget chairs before I tell them what they can or can’t spend, especially on Health and Human Services,” Haridopolos said.

The House plan also includes using $5.6 million that BP has set aside for food safety testing and a seafood marketing campaign in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and $35 million for efforts to restore the Everglades, which is up $15 billion from the current year.

In his budget, Scott called for $40 million for the Everglades, which advocates of the River of Grass have applauded, but just as quickly noted that during Gov. Jeb Bush’s term, funding annually topped $100 million.

For state college and university students, there would be an 8 percent base tuition increase as the schools face a 6 percent drop in funding.

The Pre-K-12 funding would translate to a 2.27 percent increase in per-student funding, growing by $141.30 to $6,366.22.

The budget package is nearly $5 billion higher than the fiscal plan Scott proposed in December.

“In drafting this proposed legislation, our subcommittees listened to input from various constituencies, considered recommendations of the governor and state agencies and incorporated those ideas wherever possible,” House Appropriations Chairman Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, stated in a release. “The work product appropriately prioritizes the delivery of services to people over the purchase of things.”

Included in the House’s recommended budget for the fiscal year 2012-13:

PRE-K-12 EDUCATION

The proposed budget totals $12.7 billion which is a $1.1 billion (9.5 percent) increase.

Per-student funding increase: $6,366.22, or $141.30 (2.27 percent).

School recognition increase: from $70 per student to $100.

Virtual contribution increase: from $4,800 to $5,000.

Reading instruction allocation increase: from $97.7 million to $115 million.

Voluntary pre-kindergarten program increase: $413.1 million, an increase of $28.5 million (7.42 percent) for an expected additional 11,519 students.

ADMINISTRATIVE

Performance bonuses for state employees: Provides flexibility to agency heads, the chief justice, state attorneys, public defenders, and others, to provide performance-related bonuses of up to 10 percent of an employee’s salary to up to 15 percent of the agency’s authorized positions. No additional funding provided -- to be paid from current budget resources.

HEALTH CARE

Proposed budget totals $29.8 billion ($7.6 billion general revenue and $22.2 billion trust funds). There is a 0.18 percent decrease in total spending and a 9.41 percent increase in general revenue funds over the fiscal year 2011-12 appropriation.

Additional funding for increased Medicaid caseloads: Medicaid Price Level and Workload Adjustment -- $304.7 million total, $856.8 million general revenue. Additional funding for increased Medicaid caseloads and price level adjustments as agreed upon by the January 2012 Social Service Estimating Conference for an anticipated additional 155,720 Medicaid beneficiaries. No category of Medicaid eligibility is eliminated or reduced. Medicaid savings are achieved through service limitations and provider rate reductions.

Florida KidCare enrollment increase -- $4.6 million, ($6.2 million general revenue). Provides funding to fund the 2012-13 anticipated growth in the KidCare program. Funding is expected to serve an additional 11,612 children, a 4 percent growth rate.

Additional slots in the Nursing Home Diversion program -- $43.8 million total, $18.9 million general revenue. Funding to provide an additional 2,415 slots in the nursing home diversion program, 150 PACE slots in Lee and Collier counties, 207 in the Assisted Living Waiver, 1,250 in the Aged and Disabled Waiver, and 187 in the Community Care for the Elderly program.

Increase to the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver -- resources to address the APD Medicaid Waiver -- $65.1 million total, $27.5 million general revenue. This brings total waiver funding to $877 million, an increase of 8.2 percent over the fiscal year 2011-12 funding. An additional $23.9 million ($10.5 million general revenue) is also provided for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Biomedical research funding -- $25 million Biomedical Research Trust Fund. Provides biomedical research funding to James and Esther King ($5 million), Bankhead/Coley ($5 million), H. Lee Moffitt ($5 million), Sylvester Cancer Center ($5 million), and Shands Cancer Hospital ($5 million).

Resources for critical positions in state veterans' nursing homes – $4 million total trust fund. Provides funding for salary upgrades for professional health positions in state veterans’ nursing homes.

Restore funding for Ounce of Prevention and Early Steps programs -- $5.5 million trust fund. Provides funding to the Ounce of Prevention program ($1.9 million) which works to improve the life outcomes of children, preserve and strengthen families, and promote healthy behavior and functioning in society. Restores funding to the Early Steps program ($3.6 million) which provides early intervention services and support for families with infants and toddlers with disabilities to support their child’s well-being, development, learning and full participation in the community.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The propose budget includes $9.3 billion in funding which maintains Florida economic development activities and our state’s transportation infrastructure.

No loss of sworn law enforcement officers.

Fully funds the Department of Military Affairs: Includes $1.8 million for guard tuition assistance and $13.5 million for armories.

Greater efficiencies in the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: Continues the transition of providing driver license issuance services at tax collectors’ offices. This saves the state an additional $1.4 million next year.

Increases in funding for economic development programs: Economic development programs are funded at $205.2 million, or approximately 4.2 percent more than last year.
  • Within these resources, $73 million is provided to the governor with enhanced flexibility so he can best utilize economic incentives to take advantage of emerging trends and opportunities that promote job growth and business opportunities around the state.
  • Visit Florida’s total budget has been increases by $27.5 million to $54 million next year in an effort to promote our state’s vital tourism industry through increased marketing and advertising.
  • The budget maintains level funding for state aid to libraries ($21.3 million), and increases cultural and museum funding by 21 percent with $3.4 million. Historic preservation grant programs are funded with an additional $543,000.
Fully funds the transportation work program: Meets the level requested by the Department of Transportation -- $7 billion.

AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

The proposed budget is $3 billion in total funding ($181.8 million in general revenue funds and $2.8 billion in trust funds). There is a 42 percent increase in total spending (a 2.6 percent decrease in general revenue funds and a 46 percent increase in trust funds) over the current year appropriation, primarily from the transfer of the school food and nutrition programs from the Department of Education.

School food and nutrition programs -- $1.1 billion total; $16 million general fund. Transfers funding from the Department of Education for the school food and nutrition programs.
  • BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill -- $5.6 million. Provides authority to spend funds from BP to conduct food safety testing and a high-visibility seafood marketing campaign.
  • Forestry wildfire equipment -- $4.6 million general revenue. Provides nonrecurring funding for the replacement of critical firefighting equipment.
  • Everglades restoration -- $35 million total, $15 million general revenue. Provides funding for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the implementation of the Northern Everglades and Estuaries program, and hybrid wetland/chemical treatment projects.
GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

The proposed budget is $1.75 billion ($252.9 million in general revenue funds and $1.5 billion in trust funds). Overall there is a $26.2 million increase (or 1.7 percent) over the current year (0.2 percent in general revenue and 1.7 percent in trust funds) primarily due to data center consolidation (agencies consolidating into Northwood or Southwood shared resource center) and increases in the Department of Management Services to account for changes in the state health insurance funding model.
  • One-stop business registration portal -- $3 million for Department of Revenue to establish and implement an Internet website that will provide individuals and businesses with a single point of entry into state government for completing and submitting documents required to transact business in Florida. Conforming bill PCB GOAS 12-01 is tied to this issue.
  • Fiscally constrained counties -- $26.5 million. This issue provides funding for counties to offset reductions in ad valorem tax revenue as a result of state constitutional amendments approved by voters in 2008.
  • Single licensing system -- $1.9 million to update the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s licensing system. The licensing system has not had a major software update since it was created in 2003. The manufacturer of the software will soon eliminate support.

HIGHER EDUCATION

The proposed budget totals $5.9 billion -- a $246.1 million (6 percent) decrease from fiscal year 2011-12. The budget also includes an 8 percent base tuition increase authority for work force, Florida’s college and state universities. With tuition revenues, the state university system realizes a total budget increase of 2.2 percent and the Florida college system budget realizes a total budget increase of 1.7 percent.
  • Establishes the Florida virtual campus to provide access to online student and library support services and serve as a statewide resource and clearinghouse for postsecondary education distance learning courses and degree programs, and to increase student access and completion of degrees.
  • Establishes a degree completion pilot program to recruit, recover and retain adult learners and assist them in completing degrees aligned to high-wage, high-skill, and work force needs.
JUSTICE

The proposed budget totals $4.2 billion ($3.4 billion general revenue and $760.8 million trust fund). There is a $584.6 million (or 12.25 percent) reduction in total spending compared to fiscal year 2011-12 appropriations. General revenue is increased from the current year funding of $3.3 billion to $3.4 billion -- a reduction of $166.8 million, or 5.12 percent (primarily due to a fund shift in the state courts). Trust fund appropriations are reduced from $1.5 billion to 760.8 million -- a reduction of $751.4 million, or -49.69 percent (primarily due to the clerks being taken out of the General Appropriations Act).
  • No changes in adult sentencing or release policies.
  • Provides funding to support the continuing backlog in foreclosure cases ($5.8 million).
  • Redirects mortgage foreclosure revenues from the state courts revenue trust fund to the general revenue fund. This will offset deficits in the trust fund and provide stable funds to support and operate the state courts system.
  • Removes the clerks of court and the corporation from the state budget (-$446.7 million).
  • Provides funding for in-prison substance abuse treatment beds ($1 million, general revenue).
  • No reductions to the state attorneys, public defenders, guardian ad litem, capital collateral regional counsels or the regional conflict counsels.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.



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