Will Weatherford Sets Out House Budget Marching Orders
Around the State
House Speaker Will Weatherford released to his members Monday the appropriations subcommittee allocations -- and his personal direction -- for the development of the House's proposed fiscal year 2013-14 budget.
"As you all know, our state is emerging from one of its most challenging economic downturns in recent history," wrote Weatherford. "For the first time in seven years, we are no longer facing a significant budget shortfall. This is not only attributable to improved economic conditions but also to your hard work by making responsible choices in tough times to balance our budget and provide a fiscally sustainable future."
The speaker urged members to proceed on the budget with fiscal caution and discipline, but reminded them that "there is an opportunity to appropriately provide additional funding for state priorities."
Weatherford said the allocations he lists are "the result of careful deliberations," and are made to reach the following funding goals:
- Maintain in excess of $1.2 billion in General Revenue reserves.
- Provide for a minimum of $1 billion in new money to the state’s K-12 funding formula, the FEFP.
- Stabilize funding in our institutions of higher learning; including full restoration of the $300 million reduction in state university funding that occurred in fiscal year 2012-13.
- Strengthen Florida’s safety net by increasing funding to serve our most vulnerable populations such as our elderly, disabled and citizens in need of mental health and substance abuse treatment. Specifically, provide for funding to ensure a smooth transition to our improved diagnosis-related grouping model of hospital reimbursement.
- Provide for the funding of our state’s transportation needs without sweeping the State Transportation Trust Fund.
- Continue the state’s effort to foster economic development and provide assistance to our communities.
- Ensure continued public safety by addressing the deficits in our correctional system, funding initiatives to further reduce crime and appropriately fund to our judicial system.
- Protect and enhance Florida’s environment by funding measures to improve water supply and quality, as well as to purchase lands to preserve Florida’s unique natural resources and provide recreational opportunities.
- Provide recurring funding to fully address the unfunded actuarial liability (UAL) of the Florida Retirement System.
- Reward hard-working state employees with the first across-the-board pay raise in over six years.
- Preserve our state infrastructure by investing in long-overdue maintenance of our colleges, universities and state facilities.
Weatherford ended his memo by encouraging members "to continue to thoughtfully evaluate and innovate as (you) proceed to craft the fiscal year 2013-14 General Appropriations Act.
He said, "I trust in (your) good judgment and look forward to reviewing the product of (your) hard work."