The Education Conference Committee held its final meeting Sunday evening. Chairman Gaetz and Chairman Fresen agreed to funding levels and source for the Florida Education Finance Program, (FEFP). The agreement would increase the state’s share of the $20 billion program to $11.3 billion. That’s $385 million more than the current year. It would also give $428 million in “tax relief” on local property taxes. They were not, however, able to come to agreement on the remaining funding and policy line-items.
Transportation and Economic Development
The Transportation and Economic Development Conference Committee held its last meeting Monday night, leaving differences between the House and the Senate on funding for several local projects and public-private partnerships. Chairman Latvala and Chairman Ingram were unable to agree on funding for both Space Florida and Visit Florida, as well as the source of nearly $200 million in dollars marked for affordable housing programs.
Health and Human Services
The Health and Human Services Conference Committee also had its final meeting Monday night. Chairman Garcia and Chairman Hudson agreed on almost all of the health care budget language, including the Medicaid conforming bill, except for some language including a specific certificate of need exemption and graduate medical education funding. The Senate made an offer on the implementing bill, proviso as well as the $600 million Low Income Pool (LIP) and the $237 million Disproportionate Share Hospital Program (DSH) to help hospitals treat the poor and uninsured. The House agreed to everything except for a few items in proviso including language on Planned Parenthood. All of the remaining unresolved items have been bumped to Chairs Lee and Corcoran to sort out.
Governor’s Priorities Left on the Cutting Room Floor
Governor Scott also requested $250 million for a fund for Enterprise Florida Inc. Enterprise Florida is a public-private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for Florida. EFI provides incentives for large and small businesses to either relocate to, or stay in Florida. When allocations were released of Friday, it was shown that the Legislature will not be giving any money to EFI. Leadership in the Legislature criticized the plan, calling it cooperate welfare.
The last of the Governor’s proposals requested record levels of education spending using a modified school funding formula. While the idea of increasing education funding was well received, many members of the Legislature criticized the funding formula for increasing the burden on local property taxes to boost the funding. During the conferencing process the education committee agreed to increase spending by over $385 million more than the current year. They are also reducing the funding burden on property taxes from over $9 billion to $8.8 billion.