Governor DeSantis released his 2019-2020 state budget recommendations on Friday, February 1. As a result, most of this week’s Legislative Interim Committee Meetings provided presentations on funding and policies outlined in in governor’s budget. In addition to presentations and discussion of budget issues, legislative committees/subcommittees considered several bills of interest including, among others, bills relating to financial literacy, government accountability, and school board member term limits. Please click on the files below to learn more about the governor’s budget and related Executive Orders, legislative meetings this week, and recent FSBA Advocacy Subcommittee activities.
State law requires the governor to release his/her state budget recommendations at least 30 days before the opening of the legislative session. Governor DeSantis unveiled his $91.3 billion state budget recommendation last week with time to spare. It is important to keep in mind that the governor’s budget recommendation is exactly that: a recommendation. It is the Legislature that has the privilege and responsibility of crafting the state budget. The governor’s recommendation is more of a policy document that highlights the spending priorities and new policies that the state’s chief executive wishes to pursue. As such, it serves as a guide to the Legislature as it takes on the more detailed task of crafting a balanced state budget.
Overall, the governor’s $91.3 billion state budget recommendation reflects an increase of $2.6 billion over the current year, calls for $335 million in tax relief via property tax reductions and sales tax holidays, and retains more than $5.2 billion in in total state reserves. The governor’s recommended PreK-12 education funding provides a total of $21.75 billion in FEFP funding, an increase of more than $695 million (3.3%) which includes:
- A $50 increase (1.19%) in the Base Student Allocation
- A $142 million increase (1.84%) in Required Local Effort tax revenue from a partial roll-back of the RLE millage rate (this roll-back of the RLE provides $290 million of the $335 million tax cut package mentioned above).
- A $50 million increase (30.87%) in Safe Schools funding
- A $10 million increase (14.44%) in the Mental Health Allocation
- A reduction of $50 million (-71.43%) in the Digital Classrooms Allocation
- Elimination of the Funding Compression Allocation (-$56.8 million)
- Addition of $423 million into the FEFP for teacher and principal recruitment and retention (this is a redesign of the Best & Brightest Teachers and Principals bonus program that would eliminate the SAT/ACT score eligibility requirement and make other changes – see an outline of the governor’s redesign HERE)
These changes in FEFP funding results in $7,653.19 in total FEFP funds per student, an increase of $224 or 3.0% (NOTE: Most of the increase in funding is earmarked for categorical programs).
Some of the highlights in capital and non-FEFP funding include:
- A $7 million increase in VPK funding, but no change to base allocations for the summer or school year programs
- $10 million for training to allow teachers to earn certification in computer science
- The same level of PECO funding ($50 million) for traditional public school maintenance and a $10 million increase (total of $155.5 million) in PECO funding for charter school maintenance (this makes it unlikely that districts will be required to share local capital outlay revenue with charter schools in their district)
- A $19 million increase (total $50.8 million) in the Special Facility Construction Account
- Ongoing funding for safe schools capital needs
- $500,000 plus roll-over of the unexpended funds for the safe schools Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program as incentives to encourage, but not require, districts to participate in the Program
We have prepared a comparison of the highlights of the Governor’s education funding recommendation and current year funding and policies. It is posted, along with other budget materials, in the “2019 Education Budget Materials” file on our Legislative Session page or you may click HERE to access it directly. Please keep in mind that it is still very early in the 2019-2020 budget development process and we will continue to add new budget materials to this file on our Legislative Session page as they become available.
In addition to releasing his budget, Governor DeSantis recently has issued several Executive Orders of interest:
Executive Order #19-32 – Relating to Academic Standards
Executive Order 19-32 directs Commissioner Richard Corcoran to comprehensively review the academic standards for Florida’s K-12 students and provide recommended revisions to the governor. The recommendations must:
- Articulate how Florida will eliminate Common Core (Florida Standards) and ensure we return to the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic;
- Provide a roadmap to make Florida’s standards number one in the nation;
- Reflect Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s consultation with relevant stakeholders to include parents and teachers;
- Deem how to increase the quality of instructional curriculum;
- Suggest innovative ways to streamline testing;
- Identify opportunities to equip high school graduates with sufficient knowledge of America’s civics, particularly the principles reflected in the United States Constitution, so as to be capable of discharging the responsibilities associated with American citizenship; and
- Outline a pathway for Florida to be the most literate state in the nation.
Executive Order #19-31 – Relating to Workforce Education
Executive Order 19-31 directs Commissioner Richard Corcoran to ensure that the FDOE:
- Conducts an audit of course offerings in the state CTE system to ensure alignment with certificate or degree programs, with industry certifications, and with employment opportunities and that evaluates student outcomes;
- Works with and utilizes the expertise of various stakeholders;
- Develops CTE best practices for partnerships among high schools, postsecondary institutions, and businesses;
- Makes annual recommendations to the governor on the aligning course offerings with market demands and strengthening existing programs; and
- Pursues specified legislative priorities to enhance workforce education programs and services.
Executive Order #19-20 – Relating to Special Elections
Executive Order 12-20 sets the schedule for Special Elections to fill vacancies in House District 7 (formerly held by Halsey Beshears – R), House District 38 (formerly held by Danny Burgess – R), and House District 97 (formerly held by Jared Moskowitz – D). For all three of these seats, the Special Primary is set for April 9, 2019 and the Special Elections is set for June 18, 2019. Note that this schedule results in these three seats remaining vacant through the 2019 Legislative Session.
Among the bills filed for consideration this week, the Senate Education Committee has filed SB 7030 – School Safety & Security. This bill is likely to be the vehicle that will incorporate recommendations and make any necessary changes to the current law (per SB 7026). The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to consider the bill on Tuesday next week. We have posted information on this bill, including the Senate Staff Analysis and the Initial Report of the MSDHS Public Safety Commission, in the “2019 Education Legislation Materials” file on our Legislative Session page.
This week, the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee considered and passed HJR 229 – Limitation on Terms of School Board Members. This joint resolution proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution that, if approved by the voters at the November 3, 2020 general election, will prohibit a school board member from appearing on a ballot for reelection if, by the end of his or her current term of office, the member will have served, or but for resignation would have served, in that office for eight consecutive years. The proposed limitation would apply only to terms of office beginning on or after November 3, 2020, and are prospective, so that school board members reelected to a consecutive term in 2020 could serve another consecutive eight years before reaching the term limit. This proposed amendment is similar to legislation filed last year and to a proposal filed by the Constitution Revision Commission. We have posted information on this bill, including the House Staff Analysis and background materials and points to consider “2019 Education Legislation Materials” file on our Legislative Session page.
In addition to budget presentations and the issues outlined above, below is a brief review of several other bills of interest that were considered this week:
The Senate Education Committee considered and passed:
SB 114 – High School Graduation Requirements/Financial Literacy by Hutson. This bill revises the Florida Standards to establish requirements for financial literacy distinct from the existing financial literacy requirements under the economics curricular content for social studies and revises the requirements for a student to earn a standard high school diploma to require a separate one-half credit requirement in personal financial literacy and to reduce the number of required elective credits from eight to seven and one-half.
The Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee considered and passed:
SB 7016 – State-administered Retirement Systems by GOAC. The bill establishes the contribution rates paid by employers participating in the Florida Retirement System (FRS) beginning July 1, 2019. These rates are intended to fund the full normal cost and the amortization of the unfunded actuarial liability of the FRS.
SB 7014 – Government Accountability by GOAC. The bill amends various statutes to enhance government accountability and auditing processes based on recommendations noted in recent reports by the Auditor General. Among other things, the bill authorizes the Governor or Commissioner of Education, or designee, to notify the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee if an entity fails to comply with certain auditing and financial reporting requirements; provides definitions for the terms “abuse,” “fraud,” and “waste”; and revises the membership, and restrictions thereof, for an audit committee of a county, municipality, special district, district school board, charter school, or charter technical career center.
The next round of Legislative Interim Committee Meetings will be held February 11-15, 2019. The schedule of bills and meetings of interest is available HERE
February 4-8 was National School Counselor Appreciation Week. One of FSBA’s 2019 Legislative Platform priorities is to build upon the investment made last year for mental health services by providing funding to hire additional school counselors, to expand and enhance mental health services available through school and community coordinated services, and to provide enhanced wraparound services. To promote support and understanding of this priority, the FSBA Advocacy Subcommittee has been working with school districts to produce short videos that illustrate the value and need of school mental health intervention and prevention services. We are grateful to the Taylor and Citrus school districts, and to FSBA’s Member Communications Manager, BillieAnne Gay, for crafting terrific videos that highlight this important issue.
- View the Taylor County video HERE
- View the Citrus County video HERE
- View BillieAnne Gay’s video HERE