Feuding and rancor between Governor Scott, House Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron defined the 2017 regular Florida Legislative Session, which ended on May 8. Ongoing conflicts also threatened to derail the three-day Special Session (2017-A), called by Governor Scott last week after he vetoed the entire K-12 education portion of the state budget. However, legislative leaders and the Governor were able to find common ground on schools, as well as medical marijuana, economic development programs and Lake Okeechobee, adjourning the Special Session on time last Friday.
2017-2018 Budget (Almost) Final
The 2017-2018 Florida budget, effective July 1, was passed on May 8 at the end of a contentious session. Governor Scott vetoed a record $11.4 billion of budget line items and called the Legislature back last week for Special Session 2017-A. Almost all outstanding budget issues were finalized during the special session. Funds were added for economic development, water clean-up projects and higher education. The K-12 education budget received $215 million in supplemental funding. However, another $419 million for K-12 education is contained in the controversial education bill (see below) that has not yet been given to Governor Scott to sign or veto. A brief overview of select budget items of interest to United Way can be reviewed here.
Important Education Bill Awaits Governor's Action
A controversial education bill, HB 7069, was cobbled together from more than 30 other bills and then passed on the last day of the regular Florida Legislative Session. The 274-page bill contains something for everyone to like and everyone to hate. The strongest opposition comes from those who believe it will harm students by diverting scarce public school resources to private charter schools. The conforming bill includes $419 million in K-12 education funding and addresses numerous issues, summarized here.
2017 Bill Summary
Bills of interest to United Way which passed this session included measures to expand newborn screening; study early learning assessments and middle grade best practices; help foster children obtain drivers licenses; allow children with disabilities to remain in the child welfare system until age 22; improve protocols for helping victims of human trafficking, child abuse and neglect; and create a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Safety Net Network. Other bills that passed included various restrictions on the taxing authority of local government. Additional limitations on local government authority were not successful this session, nor were attempts to restrict labor organizations; increase restrictions for families receiving temporary cash benefits (TANF); and mandate juvenile civil citations. Click herefor a list of bills of interest to United Way that passed and failed in the 2017 Session.
2018 Regular Session: January 9, 2018 - March 9, 2018