Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Education Budget Conference Committee met three times over the weekend. On Saturday, the House made the first offer on reconciling the differences between the House and Senate budgets. The House presented several offers on the FEFP and Non-FEFP items. For the FEFP, the House recommended a significant reduction in local property tax revenue and the replacement of about half of those funds with state revenue. Under this House offer, the FEFP would have an increase of $458 million (2.33%) and Total FEFP Funds Per FTE would increase to $7,178.49, in increase of about $71 (1%). On Sunday, the Senate presented its response to the House offer. The Senate agreed to the House offer on the FEFP – in effect, this concluded the Education Conference Committee’s negotiations on the FEFP portion of the education budget. The Senate also agreed to some of the Non-FEFP offers made by the House but stipulated that the Senate’s agreement was contingent upon the House agreeing to several Senate offers. Later on Sunday evening, the House indicated that they could not agree to all of the Senate’s offers on the Non FEFP items and agreement was reached to bump ALL remaining issues to the Senate and House Appropriations chairs – Senator Lee and Representative Corcoran – for resolution. At this time, it appears that the Education Conference Committee will not be meeting again.
The Education Conference Committee Leaders — Representative Fresen (Chair) and Senator Gaetz (Vice Chair) – seemed satisfied with their work on the FEFP. Both stated that the FEFP Funding Per FTE was at an historic level, exceeding the previous highpoint – in 2007-2008 — by about $35 per student. In addition, some categorical programs received significant increases, particularly the ESE Guarantee and Digital Classroom Allocation. Further, although the state would replace only about half of the difference in funding, both were pleased with the roll-back of the Required Local Effort millage rate as means to provide local property tax relief.
Despite any of the positive aspects, FSBA remains concerned about the relative lack of flexible funding that is necessary to maintain the smooth operation of each school district, particularly if any new programs, services, policies, and/or personnel are required. FSBA is also concerned about the long list of issues that have yet to be resolved by the Appropriations Committee Chairs, including capital outlay allocations, CAPE Program funding, and VPK Program funding. It is also important to note that there are several substantial differences that will need to be resolved in the education portions of the Budget Implementing Bill and in the Proviso language that will accompany both FEFP and Non-FEFP budget allocations. As you know, resolution of these items can either brighten or darken the whole funding landscape.
The Appropriations Chairs are likely to meet sometime this evening to tackle some of these issues and we will keep you informed of their progress. In the meantime, we have posted the FEFP Spreadsheets from the House and Senate offers (though they are essentially identical and do not offer district-by-district information). We have also prepared a simple comparison of the FEFP totals from the current year, the House and Senate Budget proposals, and the outcome of the Education Conference Committee. You may also find it informative to look at our FEFP History and Comparison with the Budget Proposals. All of these documents are available on the FSBA website in our Legislative Session Resource Center at http://fsba.org/2016-
I hope you find this information useful. Please let me know if you have any questions.