Florida’s budget process begins with the Governor, the Senate, and the House each releasing a proposed budget. In theory, each party would set out their priorities with desired spending levels. In practice, the budget process is like a complex card game with no party wanting to “show their hand” too soon.
This is particularly true of the initial Senate and House budgets. Many programs are underfunded with all parties planning to negotiate higher amounts. Some programs are overfunded with the anticipation of moving part of the funding to another program. Unless the Senate and the House have the same amount in their initial budgets, the funding will be subject to negotiations during the budget conference. This year, an improving economy and anticipated federal funding may lead to an increase in some programs during the budget negotiations.
During the budget conference, multiple compromise offers are exchanged. Education and Health are the two largest sections of the budget and are often the most difficult to reach an agreement. Frequently, the budget conference will stretch into the final week of Session. Many significant items are not agreed upon until the last day of budget conference.
After the budget conference ends and the Legislature passes the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the Governor reviews the budget. The Governor may veto the entire budget or any line item (project, program). It is rare for a Governor to veto the entire budget, but the Governor will likely veto some items. The funding for any project or program is not final until the Governor issues his vetos and has signed the budget.
The Senate and House budget subcommittees released their proposed budgets this week.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education’s proposed budget makes the following recommendations for the State University System:
SUS Funding: $4.96 billion (including tuition)
Performance Funding: Maintain the current level of $560 million
$265 million in recurring state investment
$295 million in redirected funds from the universities’ base
Integrated Library System: $15 million
Tuition Increase: None
Bright Futures: $652 million
The Bright Futures Academic Scholars award will continue to cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for all semesters, including summer and continue to provide a $300 award for fall and spring textbooks. The Medallion Scholars award will continue to cover an amount equal to 75 percent of tuition and fees for all semesters, including summer.
$37 million recurring reduction for administrative efficiencies
$27.5 million for the state universities (allocation not specified)
$9.5 million for the state medical schools (FIU’s share is $1.3 million)
$217 million in non-recurring program reductions (allocation not specified)
The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee’s proposed budget makes the following recommendations for the State University System:
Programs of Strategic Emphasis: $66.2 million to fund the “buy one get one” free tuition waiver in HB 1261
Integrated Library System: $11.8 million
Tuition Increase: None
The Bright Futures Academic Scholars award will continue to cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for all semesters, including summer. The Medallion Scholars award will continue to cover an amount equal to 75 percent of tuition and fees for all semesters, including summer.
The $300 award for fall and spring textbooks is not funded.
SUS Funding: $4.64 billion (including tuition)
$570 million net decrease to the SUS
Performance Funding:Reduce the current level of $560 million by 50 percent to $265 million
$132.5 million reduction in state investment
FIU’s estimated share of the reduction is $15.7 million
World Class Faculty and Scholar Program:
Reduce funding by $10 million (ten percent)
FIU’s estimated share of the reduction is $1 million
Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program:
Eliminate the program funding of $60 million
FIU’s share of the reduction is $10.9 million
Distance Learning Fees:
Reduce university base funding in an amount equal to its distance learning fee revenues
$69.8 million reduction for SUS
FIU’s share of the reduction is estimated to be $15.3 million
Salary Cap Reduction (see PCB HEA 21-01 Higher Education below for details)
Reduce university base funding in an amount equal to faculty salaries in excess of $200,000 for programs not specified in law
$18.5 million reduction for SUS
FIU’s share of the reduction is estimated to be $2.1 million
University Specific Funding Reductions:
Reduce Preeminent and Emerging Preeminent/National Ranking funding by $206 million
Reduce UF and FSU National Ranking Funding by $55 million
Reduce or eliminate funding awarded since FY 2015-16 for operational support, Universities of Distinction and Centers by $163 million
$35.4 million reduction for FIU for operational support
$1 million reduction for FIU for the Adam Smith Center for Economic Freedom
PCB HEA 21-01 Higher Education
The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee introduced a proposed committee bill to make changes to law that conform with items in the proposed budget. The proposed bill:
Requires all funds appropriated for Preeminent State Research Universities must be distributed equally.
Repeals the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program.
Provides minimum performance standards for institutions to be eligible to participate in the Effective Access to Student Education tuition assistance program.
Eliminates the Access to Better Learning and Education tuition assistance program.
Creates the Florida Integrated Library System.
Expands the existing salary cap of $200,000 for state university administrative employees to include all university faculty, except for those in the following fields:
Engineering Technologies and Engineering-Related Fields;
Florida Mental Health Institute;
Health Professions and Related Programs;
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Fields;
Before a bill becomes a law, it must pass both the Senate and the House and then be approved by the Governor. The following bills of interest passed both the Senate and the House and, pending the Governor’s approval, will become law.
SB 72 Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19 by Senator Brandes. SB 72 was amended to add the substance of SB 74 COVID-19-related Claims Against Health Care Providers. The bill provides specific COVID-19-related liability protections for businesses, educational institutions (including postsecondary), government entities, religious organizations, and health care providers. (Passed Senate: 24 Yeas, 15 Nays. Passed House: 83 Yeas, 31 Nays) Bill text and staff analysis.
Bills of Interest Passed by the Senate or House
The following bills of interest passed either the Senate or the House this week.
CS/SB 52 Postsecondary Education by Senator Ray Rodrigues. The bill:
Clarifies that the postsecondary tuition and fee exemptions apply to a student who is currently in the custody of the Department of Children and Families when they are under the age of 18.
Creates the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program which would reimburse eligible postsecondary institutions for tuition and related instructional materials costs for dual enrollment courses taken by private school or home education program students during the fall or spring terms and for all students during the summer term. Funding for the program is subject to an appropriation in the state budget. The Senate’s proposed budget provides $33.8 million to fund the program.
Authorizes a university board of trustees to implement a bonus scheme based on awards for work performance or employee recruitment and retention. The bonus scheme must be approved by the BOG.
Bills are referred to multiple committees for hearing. A bill must be heard by all the referred committees before it is eligible to be heard by the full Senate or House. The following bills were heard in committee this week.
HB 99 Use of Epinephrine Auto-injectors on Public K-20 Campuses by Representative Gottlieb. The bill requires the purchase and maintenance of epinephrine auto-injectors by K-12 public schools, state colleges, and state universities. Each institution must adopt a protocol developed by a licensed physician for the administration of the epinephrine auto-injectors. (First of four committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/HB 311 Public Records/Assessment Instruments by Representative Silvers. The bill creates a new public record exemption for all examinations and assessments, including developmental materials and workpapers, that are prepared, prescribed, or administered by state colleges, state universities, or DOE. The bill expands the existing public records exemption for the assessments and developmental materials related to the student assessment program for public schools. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
HB 541 Veterans’ Preference in Employment by Representative Buchannan. The bill authorizes state agencies to waive postsecondary education employment requirements for a current member of any reserve component of the United States Armed Forces or the Florida National Guard or a veteran who has been honorably discharged if the person is otherwise qualified for the position.
(Final of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
SB 922 Veterans’ Preference in Employment by Senator Burgess. The bill authorizes state agencies to waive postsecondary education employment requirements for a current member of any reserve component of the United States Armed Forces or the Florida National Guard or a veteran who has been honorably discharged if the person is otherwise qualified for the position. (Final of two committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
HB 997 Public Records and Meetings/Postsecondary Education Executive Search by Representative Garrison. The bill creates a public records and public meetings exemption for personal identifying information for applicants for president of a state university or state college. The information will be made public for the final group of selected applicants at least 21 days before the final selection. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/SB 1028 Charter Schools by Senator Hutson. The bill allows state universities and state colleges to sponsor charter schools. A state university sponsored charter school may serve students from multiple school districts to meet regional education or workforce demands. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/SB 1108 Education by Senator Diaz. The bill provides that beginning with students initially entering a state college or state university in the 2021-2022 school year and thereafter, each student must demonstrate competency in civic literacy by achieving a passing score on an assessment and by successfully completing a civic literacy course. Credits earned for such courses through articulated acceleration mechanisms will count toward the civic literacy competency requirement. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/HB 1347 Educational Opportunities for Veterans by Representative Benjamin. The bill provides veterans who are Florida residents and have a 100 percent disability rating with tuition and fee assistance at a state college or state university. The assistance is equal to any amount not covered by the veteran’s federal benefits. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/CS/HB 1507 Workforce Related Programs and Services by Representative Yarborough. The bill creates the Office of Reimagining Education and Career Help; creates & revises provisions relating to workforce services including the Labor Market Estimating Conference, workforce opportunity portal, state board composition, Credentials Review Committee, state plan requirements, waivers, local workforce development boards, Master Credentials List, CAPE Industry Certification Funding List, industry certifications, SEAS program, workforce development metrics, Florida Talent Development Council, Open Door Grant Program, preapprenticeship & apprenticeship program grants, & Money-back Guarantee Program. (Third of four committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/SB 1672 State University Free Seat Program by Senator Diaz. The bill creates a waiver of tuition and fees for one course of an online baccalaureate degree program for veterans, active duty military and a person “who has not been enrolled in a postsecondary institution for more than five years.” For all other courses in the program, the bill provides the student up to a 25 percent discount on tuition, provided the student remains enrolled in at least one online course during each academic year. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/SB 1728 Out-of-state Fee Waiver for Nonresident Students by Senator Baxley. The bill creates the “Grandchild Out-of-State Fees Waiver Compact”. The compact only becomes effective when two or more states join. Citizens of member states will receive a waiver of the out-of-state fee for nonresidents if the student has a SAT/ACT score of the 89th or higher percentile and the student has a grandparent who resides in a member state where the student is enrolled. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/SB 2012 Promoting Equality of Athletic Opportunity by Senator Stargel. The bill requires separate sex-specific interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletics teams or sports if the team or sport is sponsored by a public primary or secondary school, a public postsecondary institution or any school or institution whose students or teams compete against such public schools or institutions. Female teams are for females. Persons who transition from male to female will be eligible to compete in the female category if the student has declared a female gender identity to her school or institution and demonstrates a total testosterone level in serum below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months before her first competition and throughout the period of desired eligibility. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
HB 7017 Foreign Influence by the House Public Integrity & Elections Committee. The bill provides:
State agencies and political subdivisions must disclose all foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to the Department of Financial Services.
Applicants for grants from or those proposing contracts with state agencies and political subdivisions must disclose all foreign financial connections with any of the seven countries of concern.
Universities and colleges, including their Direct Support Organizations and other affiliates must disclose all foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to either the Board of Governors of the State University System or the Florida Department of Education.
Agreements for or the acceptance of donations conditioned on a program to promote the language and culture of any of the seven countries of concern are prohibited.
State universities having a research budget of $10 million or more must screen foreign applicants for research positions.
State universities having a research budget of $10 million or more must establish a foreign travel monitoring program. Each institution must publish an annual report summarizing foreign travel and activities.
HB 7019 Statewide Flooding and Sea level Rise Resilience by House Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee and Representative Busatta Cabrera. The bill creates the following:
Resilient Florida Grant Program: The Program will provide grants to a county or municipality to fund the costs of community resilience planning, vulnerability assessments that identify or address risks of flooding and sea level rise, and the development of plans and policies that allow communities to prepare for threats from flooding and sea level rise.
Comprehensive Statewide Flood Vulnerability and Sea Level Rise Data Set and Assessment:
By July 1, 2022, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shall complete the development of a comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea level rise data set sufficient to conduct a comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea level rise assessment.
By July 1, 2023, the DEP shall complete a comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea level rise assessment that identifies inland and coastal infrastructure, geographic areas, and communities in the state that are vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise and the associated risks. The assessment must be updated at least every three years.
Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan: By December 1, 2021, and each December 1 thereafter, the bill requires DEP to develop a Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan on a three-year planning horizon. The plan must consist of ranked projects that address risks of flooding and sea level rise to coastal and inland communities in the state. The total amount of funding proposed by the plan may not exceed $100 million per year.
Regional Resilience Coalitions: Counties and municipalities may enter into agreements to form regional resilience coalitions for the purpose of planning for the resilience needs of communities and coordinating intergovernmental solutions to mitigate adverse impacts of flooding and sea level rise.
Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation: The Hub is established within the University of South Florida College of Marine Science to coordinate efforts between the academic and research institutions of the state. The University of South Florida College of Marine Science will serve as the lead institution and engage other academic and research institutions, private partners, and financial sponsors to coordinate efforts to support applied research and innovation to address the flooding and sea level rise challenges of the state.