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Issue 9   |  May  1, 2017 

Budget Conference Begins ... And Ends
House Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron (seated, right) meet with Joint Budget Conference Chairs to begin the budget negotiation process.

As last week began, House and Senate leaders appeared nowhere close  to agreeing on how to craft the 2017-2018 state budget, and few capitol watchers believed they would complete their work by this Friday's scheduled session end. However, on Thursday the Chamber Leaders agreed to an $83 billion total budget  and conference committees began working to resolve the differences between the House and Senate proposals. On Saturday at noon, the biggest remaining unresolved issues were "bumped" to the full Appropriations Committee Chairs. Those that they cannot resolve will go to Senate President Negron and House Speaker Corcoran for resolution.  The final budget must be printed and on legislators desks by midnight Tuesday if the session is going to end on time.
Next Year's Budget: Conference Updates
PreK-12 Budget Conference Committee Chairs Sen. David Simmons (left) and Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr. speaking after a conference committee meeting.

Conference committees dealing with each section of the budget (i.e., education, health, environment, etc.) met several times on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, exchanging offers to resolve items in their budget silos.  Click here   for a snapshot of a (very) limited number of budget items of interest to United Ways and our partners.
The PreK-12 Education Budget subcommittee maintained funding for many of the Early Learning budget items. However the TEACH program was cut significantly, a cut that will have major negative impacts on the quality of our early learning system.

Tax Preparation Assistance: Appropriations Update
TTED Budget Conference Committee Chairs, Sen. Jeff Brandes (left) and Rep. Clay Ingram.

On Saturday, after originally proposing $600,000 to support United Way tax preparation assistance for Florida's working families in their 2017-2018 state budget, Senators on the Appropriations Conference Committee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development (TTED) reduced that amount to $250,000 and, when the House refused to accept it, eliminated all funding for the services.  Unfortunately, the funding would have helped save Florida families millions of dollars, as did this year's $500,000 appropriation.

Health Budget: Big Medicaid Cuts
Health Budget Conference Chairs, Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Jason Brodeur answer reporters' questions about Medicaid cuts.

Two weeks ago, it appeared that $1.5 billion was coming from the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to shore-up Florida's Medicaid budget.  But, since no agreement has been reached between the feds and the state, the health budget conferees proposed cutting Medicaid payments  next year by a total of $650 million, which includes a $250 million cut in state funds and a $400 million reduction in federal matching funds.

Bills to Watch

Week of May 1-5, 2017

CS/SB 360 Middle School Study (Stargel, R-Lakeland) and CS/CS/HB 293 Middle Grades (Burton, R-Lakeland): Requires the Department of Education to conduct a comprehensive study of states with nationally recognized high-performing middle schools in reading and mathematics. (Appropriation: $50,000)
CS/CS/HB 369 Civil Citation and Prearrest Diversion Programs (Plakon, R-Longwood): Creates exemption from public records requirements for personal identifying information of adults who participate in civil citation or prearrest diversion program; provides applicability; provides retroactive application.
CS/CS/HB 557 Controlled Substance Prescribing (Duran, D-Miami): Limits prescribing of opioids for acute pain in certain circumstances; revises requirements for reporting dispensing of controlled substances.
CS/CS/SB 1210 Instructional Materials for K-12 Education (Lee, R-Brandon): Requires each district school board to adopt a process allowing parents or residents of the county to object to the use of specific instructional materials based on specified criteria; revises the standards that an instructional materials reviewer shall use.
CS/SB 1318 Child Protection (Garcia, R-Hialeah): Revises the entities responsible for screening, employing, and terminating child protection team medical directors; requires the Department of Health, in consultation with the Department of Children and Families, to adopt rules regarding sexual abuse treatment programs; revises provisions regarding expert testimony provided by certain entities to include criminal cases involving child abuse and neglect, dependency cases, and cases involving sexual abuse of a child.
Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.