$783 Million Increase in K-12 Funding, $1.85 Billion Total State Investment in
Hurricane Michael Recovery, $682.6 Million Investment in Water Quality and Protection
The Florida Senate today released the conference report on Senate Bill (SB) 2500, the 2019-2020 General Appropriations Act. This balanced budget prioritizes Florida’s K-12 education system, increasing funding for the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) by $783 million, including $363.9 million in flexible funding districts can utilize for teacher pay increases. The budget also increases the total state investment in Hurricane Michael Recovery to more than $1.85 billion, while investing $682.6 million in water quality and protection, and replenishing reserves to $3.4 billion in total state reserves.
Statement by Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton)
“I am grateful to Chair Bradley, our Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs, and their House colleagues for their diligent work in preparing this budget. I also appreciate the hard work of Senators Gainer, Montford and Broxson, and their house colleagues, who worked tirelessly throughout the development of our budget to craft a comprehensive and aggressive Hurricane Michael recovery package that addresses the long-term recovery needs of our panhandle neighbors and ensures prudent fiscal management of state funds as we await the significant federal reimbursements for which we are entitled.
“This budget builds on Florida’s commitment to Hurricane Michael recovery, bringing the total state investment in Hurricane Michael recovery to more than $1.85 billion. Specifically, the budget dedicates funding to restore critical life-safety services to panhandle communities, build and provide affordable housing options for displaced families, rebuild local government infrastructure, repair critical county and municipal roads and rebuild education facilities. The K-12 Education budget includes significant additional funding to cover losses due to declined enrollment in impacted counties, and we also include funding to restore tourism and recreational opportunities and provide technical support for local governments to secure reimbursements.
“The tremendous amount of funding the state has invested in hurricane recovery placed significant constraints on our budget that guided every facet of our decision making in all other areas. Despite this significant challenge, the Legislature developed a balanced budget that focuses on Florida’s future, making a historic investments in K-12 education and replenishing state reserves severely depleted following Hurricane Michael. I am also pleased to see the Legislature reaffirm our support for State Colleges and their vital mission in meeting the workforce needs of communities across our state. We also funded a number of critical environmental priorities, including components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan that will reduce harmful discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries as well as research that will help us understand, prevent, and mitigate harmful algae and red tide, and set aside funds to plan for forward-looking investments in infrastructure that are critical to future security and economic growth.”
Statement by Senator Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island), Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
“The 2019-2020 budget provides a significant increase in funding for Florida’s K-12 public education system, increasing K-12 education funding by $783 million, which includes a per student increase of $242. This tremendous increase, coupled with the balanced policy changes passed by the House and Senate in SB 7070 will elevate traditional neighborhood public schools that have been the backbone of our education system for generations by supporting teachers and principals with $363.9 million in flexible spending that can be used for pay raises and $285 million for merit-based bonuses. The budget also maintains our commitment to school safety with increases in the Safe Schools and Mental Health Assistance Allocations.
“Our budget also makes critical investments to restore and conserve Florida’s environment, including $682.6 million for water quality and protection. This includes a significant increase in funding for both red tide research and water quality improvements like septic-to-sewer. This critical funding will help Florida both mitigate the current damage caused by blue-green algae and reduce future problems. The budget also continues our commitment to faithfully implement the Water and Land Conservation Amendment passed by voters with significant funding for Florida Forever as well as funding for restoration of Florida’s Everglades, beaches, and springs.
“We continue our state investment in the national distinction of Florida’s higher education system by appropriating key funding for Florida’s State Colleges and State University System, and maintaining significant investments in student financial aid. As Florida’s colleges and universities continue to gain national acclaim, increasing our state investment in institutions of higher learning will ensure Florida has the workforce needed to further grow our economy.
“As we worked to develop this budget, one of our top considerations was the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Michael. As we reviewed the budget needs of impacted communities, our Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs and I worked closely with Senators Gainer, Montford, and Broxson and our House colleagues to assess what outstanding recovery costs are reimbursable by insurance or the federal government; what costs are not reimbursable; and, what costs would be reimbursable by the federal government or insurance if not for the state funding those costs. Unlike the federal government, we have to pass a balanced budget every year and there is no question that significant outstanding reimbursements cause substantial restrictions in other areas of our budget. I believe we have put forward a solid plan at the state level to ensure long-term sustained recovery for Florida’s panhandle. My colleagues and I will continue to call upon our partners in Washington to do their part moving forward.”