This issue of the FSBA Session Spotlight provides information and updates on a variety of issues including hurricane preparedness and response, Legislative Interim Committee Meetings, legislative special elections and changes to key legislative committees and subcommittees, state budget development, the ongoing work by the Constitution Revision Commission, and federal issues.
During Hurricane Irma, Florida’s public schools provided the vast majority of shelters that served and protected our citizens and we should all be proud and impressed by the school and district personnel for their selfless service as they staffed many of these shelters. We hope you will recognize the contributions made by your public school family before, during, and after these disasters. To assist you, please see FSBA’s Press Kit that you may tailor to your district’s needs. Also, please be sure to visit our Florida Public School Heroes page where we are posting your efforts to honor your district’s heroes.
As many districts continue Hurricane Irma recovery efforts, Florida is also opening our doors to assist those ravaged by Hurricane Maria, and several districts will be coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Nate. We have posted a variety of documents on the Health & Safety page in our Resource Room, including guidance and resources from Governor Scott, Florida’s Congressional Delegation, FDOE, and U.S. Department of Education that address issues such as Florida’s October FTE Survey, replacement/reduction of instructional hours, accommodation of students and educators seeking refuge in Florida, request for federal funds to reimburse Florida’s hurricane expenses, and suggestions for counseling and support of students and personnel. We will add more materials as they become available.
The Legislature will be holding the first round of Interim Committee Meetings this week in preparation of the upcoming 2018 Legislative Session. Committees will receive several presentations and updates on a variety of issues including the impacts of recent hurricanes, the state’s financial outlook, and progress on implementation of legislation passed in the 2017 Regular and Special Legislative Sessions. In addition, several education-related bills of interest will be considered, including, among others:
SB 96 – Human Trafficking Education in Schools by Steube
Revising the required health education in public schools to include information regarding the dangers and signs of human trafficking; authorizing a student to opt out of a specified portion of the health education under certain circumstances, etc.
SB 88 – High School Graduation Requirements by Hukill
Revising the requirements for the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to include financial literacy; revising the required credits for a standard high school diploma to include one-half credit of instruction in personal financial literacy and money management and seven and one-half, rather than eight, credits in electives, etc.
SB 192 – Public Meetings by Baxley
Specifying conditions under which members of any board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision may participate in fact-finding exercises or excursions, etc.
HB 7 – Local Government Fiscal Transparency by Burton
Revises Legislative Auditing Committee duties; specifies purpose of local government fiscal transparency requirements; requires local governments to post certain voting record information on websites; etc.
We have posted the full schedule of meetings for October 9-13, 2017 on our 2018 Legislative Session page or you may access it directly by clicking HERE. Our schedule includes links to access information about the committees/subcommittee, each bill under consideration, and the meeting packet, if available. Also, you may watch most of this week’s legislative meetings via live webcast on The Florida Channel. At the end of this week, we will provide a report on the outcome of each meeting.
The remaining weeks of Interim Committee meetings are scheduled for October 23-27, November 6-9 and 13-17, and December 4-8. Other important legislative session dates include:
- November 14, 2017 – House Appropriation Project Request Form submission deadline
- November 21, 2017 – House Deadline for members to file their first 2 bills
- December 11, 2017 – Governor’s Budget Recommendations due
- January 9, 2018 – House and Senate deadline to file bills for introduction
- January 9, 2018 – 2018 Legislative Session convenes
- March 9, 2018 – 2018 Legislative Session adjourns
Special elections have been held, or will be held, to fill 5 vacancies in the Legislature – 1 in the Senate and 4 in the House:
- Annette Taddeo (D) has been elected to Senate District 40, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Frank Artiles (R).
- Daniel Perez (R) has been elected to House District 116, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Jose Felix Diaz (R).
- The General Election to fill the vacancy in House District 44 created by the resignation of Eric Eisnaugle (R) will be held October 10, 2017.
- The General Election to fill the vacancy in House District 58 created by the resignation of Dan Raulerson (R) will be held December 8, 2017
- The General Election to fill the vacancy in House District 72 created by the resignation of Alexandra Miller (R) will be held February 13, 2018
There also have been some changes to the membership of several committees and subcommittees in both the House and the Senate. We have updated our key committee contact lists to reflect these changes and have also provided each legislators’ capital phone number in addition to his/her email address, party affiliation, and district number. These revised contact lists are available on our 2018 Legislative Session page. Among the changes of particular interest:
- Senate Appropriations Committee – Senators Dennis Baxley, Kathleen Passidomo, and Linda Stewart have been added to the membership of the Committee.
- Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee – Senator David Simmons, formerly the chair, has been removed from the Subcommittee. Senator Kathleen Passidomo has been named as the new chair and Senator Greg Steube has been added to the Subcommittee membership.
- Senate Education Committee – Senators Keith Perry and Lauren Book have been added to the membership of the Committee and Senator Anitere Flores has been removed from the Committee.
- House Appropriations Committee – Rep. George Moraitis has been removed as vice chair but remains as a member of the Committee. Rep. Jeanette Nunez has been promoted to vice chair. Reps. Jim Boyd and Dane Eagle have been added and Reps. Jose Felix Diaz and Charlie Stone have been removed from the membership of the Committee.
- House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee – Rep. Randy Fine, formerly the vice chair, has been removed from the Subcommittee. Rep. Byron Donalds has been promoted to vice chair and Rep. Bobby Payne has been added to the membership of the Subcommittee.
- House Education Committee – Rep. Bob Cortes, formerly vice chair, has been removed from the Committee. Rep. Jennifer Sullivan has been promoted to vice chair and Reps. Kimberly Daniels, Jay Fant, Jason Fischer, and Amber Mariano have been added to the membership of the Committee.
- House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee – Rep. Jennifer Sullivan has been removed as vice chair but remains as a member of the Subcommittee. Rep. Jason Fischer has been promoted to vice chair. Rep. Ralph Massullo has been added and Rep. Bob Cortes has been removed from the membership of the Subcommittee.
- House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee – Rep. Gayle Harrell has been added and Reps. Bryan Avila and Bobby Payne have been removed from the membership of the Subcommittee.
In addition, the House has established a new Select Committee on Hurricane Response & Preparedness that will examine the impacts of recent hurricanes.
The year-round state budget development process is well underway (for more information, please see our explanation of the state Budget Development Process on the Budget & Funding page of our Resource Room or click HERE to access it directly). Earlier this year, a preliminary look at the Florida’s annual financial outlook projected a $52 million surplus – the amount that would be left over after the state pays for critical and high priority needs – for lawmakers to work with next session. Though modest in comparison to prior years, this surplus is actually an improvement over previous projections that had anticipated growing revenue shortfalls over the next few fiscal years. Even so, the impacts of Hurricane Irma and other events will require budget amendments for the current 2017-2018 fiscal year that are likely to eliminate that surplus for fiscal year 2018-2019 and send state revenue projections into the red. Of particular concern are the negative impacts Hurricane Irma has had to two of Florida’s most important economic drivers: Tourism and Agriculture. In addition, economists are now projecting a reduction in the rate of return on state retirement investments, creating an additional $50 million hole in the state budget. On one small but brighter note, Florida’s Workers’ Compensation rates are expected to fall, rather than dramatically climb, which may relieve one budgetary headache for both state and local governments.
Against this very austere funding backdrop, the State Board of Education has adopted a rather generous Legislative Budget Request (LBR) to be submitted to the Legislature. The 2018-2019 LBR would increase FEFP funding over the current year by nearly $770 million – or 3.73% — which translates into a $200 increase (2.74%) in total funds per FTE. Of particular interest, the LBR would maintain the current Required Local Effort (RLE) millage rate rather than using the roll-bake rate as the Legislature has done for two years in a row (and which House Speaker Corcoran has announced will be his intention to do again). Retaining the current RLE millage rate would generate nearly $450 million, accounting for more than half of the total $770 million increase. Other highlights of the FEFP include an increase in the Base Student Allocation of nearly $137 or 3.25%, a $10 million increase in Safe School funding, and a substantial (17.23%) increase in funding for Student Transportation that equates to $25 per FTE. The LBR anticipates an enrollment increase of about 27,000 FTE, which is consistent with recent historical enrollment growth, but it’s important to keep in mind that enrollment may swing dramatically, depending on the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. It is also important to remember that this is one of the very early steps in the state budget process. We have posted a link to the FDOE LBR on the 2018 Legislative Session page in our Resource Room — see the filed titled “2018 Education Budget Information”. You may also access a one-page statewide FEFP Summary of the DOE’s LBR by clicking HERE.
We have been highlighting the important work of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) for some time and urge our members to stay up-to-date on the progress the CRC is making as it reviews and recommends changes to Florida’s Constitution. We have posted information about the CRC on the Education Legal News page in our Resource Room, including general background information about the CRC process and links to the CRC membership and committees. The most recent round of meetings – originally scheduled for September – were cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and rescheduled for October 2-6, 2018 in Tallahassee. We have posted links to the committees and the most recent committee meeting packets for those CRC committees that are likely to consider issues relating to education. We have also posted a link to a list of the list and information about the Proposals for Changes to the Florida Constitution that have been submitted by the public (total of 782 so far) and by the members of the CRC (total of 13 so far). Several proposals are of particular interest to school districts including, as just a few examples:
- Proposal 4 by a member of the CRC that would amend Article I, Section 3 of the State Constitution to remove the prohibition against using public revenues in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or any sectarian institution.
- Proposal 700004 by a member of the public that would amend Article IX, Section 1 that would require that transportation be offered through the local school district bus system or contractor of the school district’s choice to children who have an opportunity to attend a school outside of their designated school area, through school voucher or lottery.
- Proposal 700025 by a member of the public that would require school districts to be combined into school regions.
- Proposal 700167 by a member of the public that would require four members of the state board of education and the commissioner of education to be elected by the voters.
Again, these are just a few of the nearly 800 proposals that have been submitted. The deadline for submission of proposals by the public has now passed but the members of the CRC are still free to submit proposals. In the coming weeks and months, the CRC will turn its attention to reviewing the submitted proposals to determine whether they are worthy of placement on the November 2018 General Election ballot for approval or rejection by voters. We are in the process of creating a chart of those proposals that are education related along with a brief description of each. We will post and update that chart shortly. In the meantime, please feel free to share your thoughts and concerns about any CRC proposal with us.
Several events have occurred in recent weeks in Washington that are worthy of note. First, with the landfall in the U.S. of Hurricane Harvey at the end of August, Congress recognized the need to provide needed funding to support federal disaster assistance and relief. At the same time, with the approach of the end of the federal fiscal year, Congress was engaged in a budget and debt ceiling debate. In early September, Congress chose a short-term solution to address both disaster relief and budget issues by enacting legislation that included the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 and Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017. The bill provides funding at approximately the Fiscal Year 2017 level through December 8, 2017 for the continuing activities and projects of the federal government, including education and temporarily suspends the statutory debt limit. In addition, the bill provides $15.25 billion in emergency funding for, among other things, the Department of Homeland Security – which includes the cash strapped Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – to support disaster assistance and relief.
Although this legislation eases the urgency for Congress to act on the budget, both chambers have returned to discussion and debate on budget issues and we will continue to monitor and report on this process as information becomes available. For now, we have posted a comparison of fiscal year 2018 education funding proposed by President Trump, The U.S. House, and the U.S. Senate (see link below). Meanwhile, with the impacts of Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Nate, it is evident that additional federal resources will be needed for disaster assistance and relief. On October 6, nearly the entire Florida Congressional Delegation submitted a letter to House and Senate Appropriations leaders requesting funding to address the impacts in Florida. Among other things, this letter requested $2 billion in federal funds for State and Local Education Agencies for disaster relief for Hurricanes Irma and Nate in Florida and for Florida to provide assistance to victims of Hurricane Maria.
Also within the same early September timeframe, President Trump formally rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but chose to delay implementation of the rescission for six months to allow time for Congress to enact legislation to replace DACA should Congress wish to do so. DACA is an immigration policy established in June 2012 by the Obama Administration that allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. More than 800,000 young people – with more than 40,000 in Florida – are participating in the DACA Program. Although the DACA program is certainly controversial, because of the significant impact of the program in Florida, we have drafted an Issue Brief to provide background information about the program (linked below).
In preparation for our every-other-year Federal Issues and Advocacy Conference, FSBA staff has updated, created, or linked several resources that address many of these issues and these are available on our Federal Government Relations page, including, among others:
- FSBA Backgrounder: Federal Appropriations and Budget Process
- FSBA Issue Brief: Federal Deficit, Debt, and Sequestration
- Comparison of House and Senate Education Budget Proposals for FY 2018
- FSBA Quick Points on Federal Education Budget and Policy Issues
- FSBA Issue Brief: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)