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Wrap-Up Issue   |  March  23, 2018

Top News: 2018 Session Ends on Time (Almost)
The Sergeants-at-Arms prepare to drop their handkerchiefs, signaling "sine die", the end of the 2018 Florida Legislative Session.

The Florida Legislature adjourned sine die on Sunday March 11, after extending the 2018 session for two days to complete the 2018-2019 state budget.
The 2018 session will forever be remembered for the tragic Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead.  Under intense political pressure from students and constituents across the state, Legislators rushed to craft and pass school and gun safety bills in hopes of avoiding future such events.
The session will also be remembered for sexual harassment allegations that rocked the Senate as session began, for an affordable housing crisis exacerbated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as for relentless growth in Medicaid caseloads, a late-session projected budget shortfall and the opioid crisis.
In the end, Legislators attempted to address all of these issues, passing 200 of the more than 3,900 bills filed, as well as an $88.7 billion state budget.  Now their focus is on the Fall, when the Governor, the entire Cabinet, and 120 of Florida's 160 lawmakers are up for election.
2018 Legislature Passes Record Budget
Governor Scott speaks to Legislators, lobbyists and the press, following sine die.

Last Friday, Governor Rick Scott signed HB 5001 , Florida's 452 page, record $88.7 million state budget for 2018-2019. It includes $400 million for school safety expenditures (largely paid for by diverting a $485 million increase in school districts' operating funds), a $130 million increase for Medicaid nursing homes, funding for United Way priorities including Health Families Florida, Healthy Start, TEACH, Help Me Grow and the School Readiness program, and increases for home and community care for seniors. The budget also accommodates a $171 million tax cut package  ( CS/HB 7087 passed by the legislature and requires counties to reduce some local property taxes, resulting in an additional $377 million cut to the state budget.
Unfortunately, the Legislature once again raided the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund to pay for other budget priorities, "sweeping" nearly two thirds of the available trust fund dollars and leaving only $109 million for affordable housing.
Before signing, Governor Scott vetoed $64 million in member projects, far less than in previous years.
A brief overview of budget issues important to United Way is here.
United Way's Priorities: How They Fared
Early Learning bill sponsors Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach (left) and Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples.

Each year, Florida's 31 local United Ways agree on a Consensus Legislative Agenda addressing issues of importance to their communities. 2018 Consensus Agenda priorities fared relatively well, with some wins and also some losses.
Financial Stability : United Ways' $1.2 million "Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program" request was not funded. The appropriation would have expanded tax preparation services in all 67 counties to help mortha31,000 ALICE families receive more than $48 million in tax refunds and more than $13 million in Earned Income Tax Credits.
Education : United Way early learning priorities were funded, and the Legislature passed what is arguably the most important early learning policy legislation in years ( CS/CS/HB 1091 ), adding accountability requirements to increase the quality of state-funded childcare ("School Readiness") programs.
Health : A bill addressing post-partum depression and promoting perinatal mental health passed ( CS/CS/HB 937 ), while bills that would have increased oral health care access for Florida's children failed ( CS/SB 764 ; CS/HB 683 ).  There were modest increases in funding for Community Care for the Elderly, Home Care for the Elderly and the Alzheimer's Disease Initiative, but over 50,000 low-income, frail elders remain on the wait lists for these services. 
Please thank your local Legislative Delegation and the legislative champions who supported United Way priorities this session. Let them know how much you, your United Way, and your community appreciate their leadership.
United Way "Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program " appropriations request:
Early Learning quality and accountability:
Session Wrap-Up: Bills that Passed and Bills that Failed

More than 3,900 bills were filed for consideration by the 2018 Florida Legislature; only 200 were actually passed, fewer than any session in at least 20 years. Read about bills of importance to United Ways, our communities and our partners that PASSED or FAILED.

Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.