UW logo
  
 United Gazette                     # LiveUnitedFL
Issue 3  | March 20, 2017 

Top News: Budget Update - House Appropriations
House Appropriations Chair Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami)

Appropriations Project Bills : A new House Rule instituted this session by Speaker Corcoran added transparency to the budget process by requiring House Members' appropriations requests to be filed as individual project bills. Over 1,200 Appropriations Projects Bills have been filed, both local and statewide programs and services, totaling $2.58 billion in requests. Each project bill must be reviewed by an appropriations subcommittee before it can be added to the House budget so it is unlikely all of these bills will receive a hearing in the remaining weeks of the session. Fortunately, United Way's tax preparation assistance program appropriation request (HB 2153 Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program) is on the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee agenda this week.  Read more about HB 2153 here and here.
 
Proposed Funding Cuts: Last week the House Appropriations Committee reviewed proposals submitted by each of the appropriations subcommittee chairs to cut the state budget by $1 billion to $2 billion. Appropriations Chair Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami) said an overall budget reduction of $1.4 billion would be needed this year to address the state's long-term financial obligations. State revenue estimates show a nearly $2 billion shortfall by 2019. The proposed cuts would affect hospital and nursing home payments, Medicaid provider rates, substance abuse and mental health programs, education and afterschool programs, arts, environmental and economic development programs. Read more here.
Financial Stability: Affordable Housing
Representative Wengay "Newt" Newton (D-St. Petersburg).
 
Over 951,000 very low income Floridians pay more than 50 percent of their income on housing - they are one missed paycheck away from homelessness; Florida has the third largest homeless population in the nation.
 
The State Housing Strategy Act was created by the Legislature in 1992 to assist Floridians to have decent, affordable housing. The strategy to accomplish this goal requires state, regional, and local governments to work in partnership with communities and the private sector, relying on financial as well as regulatory commitments.
 
Task Force on Affordable Housing:   HB 1013 (Newton, D-St. Petersburg)  creates a task force on affordable housing to study and develop recommendations for addressing the state's affordable housing needs.   Read more.
Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign
Rep. Yarborough (R-Jacksonville) speaking to the House Government Accountability Committee

The Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign (FSECC) was created in 1980 and placed into law in 1993.  It is the only authorized charitable, payroll deduction fundraising drive directed toward state employees within work areas during work hours.  Over the years, state employees have generously contributed more than $90 million to participating charities through the FSECC.
 
Florida's United Ways acted as fiscal agents and provided campaign support services for the FSECC from 1980 until 2012, when the Department of Management Services (DMS) awarded the fiscal agent contract to Solix, Inc., a for-profit corporation located in New Jersey. DMS cited the need to standardize accounting and reporting of contributions, and stated that a charity participating in the FSECC (i.e., United Way) should not manage funds intended for other participating charities.
 
Unfortunately, after Solix assumed fiscal agent responsibilities for the Campaign, participation and contributions dwindled by nearly 80%, while Solix's administrative expenses skyrocketed to more than 71% of the funds raised in 2015. As a result, DMS cancelled the 2016 Campaign. During the final eight years of the United Way's contract (2004-2011) the average statewide administrative cost was 11.9 percent.
 
CS/HB 1141  State Employment (Yarborough, R-Jacksonville) repeals the FSECC and prohibits charitable fundraising by or for employees in the workplace during work hours. Last week the bill passed the House Government Accountability Committee and is ready for a floor vote. 

The FSECC's demise hurts state workers, state government, charities and, most of all, the millions of people who were helped by Campaign donations over the decades.
Financial Stability: Veterans           
Senator Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) and Senator Frank Artiles (R-Miami)

Despite improvements, Florida's veteran unemployment rate remains higher than the national average.
 
Small Business Assistance:  SB 152  (Garcia, R-Hialeah) creates the "Veterans Employment Small Business Grant Program" to encourage small businesses in Florida to hire veterans. Under the program, a small business in Florida that hires a veteran as an employee may receive a one-time grant of $1,500 for each veteran hired, or $3,000 for each disabled veteran hired, up to $10,500 per fiscal year for a qualifying small business. Read more.
 
Tax Credit for Hiring Veterans: SB 1142 (Artiles, R-Miami) The "Florida Veterans Employment Act" establishes a tax credit for hiring veterans, with an additional credit for hiring disabled veterans. The bill revises the order in which credits against the corporate income tax or franchise tax may be taken to include credits for hiring veterans; and revises the term "adjusted federal income" to include certain tax credits taken relating to hiring veterans.
Bills to Watch this Week

HB 23 Public Assistance (Eagle, R-Cape Coral): Revises penalties for noncompliance with work requirements for temporary cash assistance; limits receipt of child-only benefits during periods of noncompliance with work requirements; requires DCF to refer sanctioned participants to appropriate community services; requires DEO, in cooperation with CareerSource Florida, Inc., & DCF, to develop & implement work plan agreement for participants in temporary cash assistance program; requires DCF to impose replacement fee for EBT cards; revises eligibility guidelines for Relative Caregiver Program with respect to relative & nonrelative caregivers.

SB 278 Local Tax Referenda (Steube, R-Sarasota); Requires local government discretionary sales surtax referenda to be held on the date of a general election.

HB 697 Federal Immigration Enforcement (Metz, R-Groveland)Designates "Rule of Law Adherence Act"; prohibits sanctuary policies; requires state & local governmental agencies to comply with & support enforcement of federal immigration law; provides requirements concerning immigration detainers & certain arrested persons; Prohibits restrictions on transfer of certain information related to enforcement of immigration law; authorizes law enforcement agency to transport unauthorized alien; authorizes ordinances for recovery immigration detainer costs; provides whistle-blower protections for certain officials; provides cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death attributed to sanctuary policy; prohibits discrimination on specified grounds; provides for implementation; requires repeal of existing sanctuary policies.

HB 757 Voluntary Prekindergarten Education (Donalds, R-Naples) Requires Just Read, Florida! Office to provide teachers, reading coaches, & principals in prekindergarten through grade 3 with specified training; requires VPK providers to provide parents with pre- and post-assessment results within specified timeframe.

SB 1446 Pay-for-success Contracts (Rouson, D-St. Petersburg); Authorizes a state agency to negotiate and enter into a pay-for-success contract with a private entity, subject to authorization in the General Appropriations Act; requires a contracted private entity to annually report to the appropriate state agency for the length of the contract; authorizes the Department of Health to implement the Nurse-Family Partnership pay-for-success program.

HB 2153 United Way of Florida - Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program (Santiago, R-Deltona) Provides an appropriation for the United Way of Florida - Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program.
Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.