The Florida Legislature worked overtime this past weekend to find common ground on budget and policy differences in advance of the scheduled end of Session this Friday. While some policy differences remain unsettled, the budget leaders have agreed on several historically contentious budget items; setting the stage for a smooth, albeit delayed, end of session sometime this coming weekend or early next week.
Funding Winners: Teachers, VISIT Florida, TBARTA, and Affordable Housing
Three major priorities for Governor DeSantis will be significantly or entirely funded in the budget this year.
- Starting salaries for teachers are set to be increased to $47,500 and other teachers will receive raises
- VISIT Florida will be authorized for at least 1 more year with a budget of $50 million
- TBARTA is expected to received $1.5 million for operations and regional transit programs
- The state’s Sadowski Trust Fund for Affordable Housing will not be swept for other priorities for the first time in over a decade
Funding Losers: Job Growth Grant Fund and Member Projects
The funding of VISIT Florida and Sadowski comes at a cost as the Job Growth Grant Fund is expected to only get $10 million instead of the requested $85 million and Member Appropriation Projects are likely to get cut.
This could spell bad news for the Carter G. Woodson Museum and the Tampa Bay Innovation Center Business Incubator requests.
With just a few days left in the scheduled 60 day legislative session, a few key policy issues are still being debated:
- E-Verify– The House and Senate disagree on whether the executive branch should have the ability to audit companies to ensure they are in compliance with E-Verify requirements. An agreement is close and the issue is a priority for Governor DeSantis and the Senate. The House is unlikely to give in on the audit requirements leaving the Senate and the Governor to decide if the slightly watered down bill is worth passing.
- Seminole Compact– The potential for an extra $700 million in gambling revenues from the Seminole casinos is fading away. A major priority of outgoing Senate President Bill Galvano, the Seminole Compact appears dead during this session but could be finalized in a special session later this spring or summer.
- Scope of Practice– House Speaker Jose Oliva’s top priority to expand the scope of practice for physician assistants and APRNs (Advanced Practice Registered Nurses) has passed the House and similar bills are poised to be heard in the Senate. This could serve as a major chit in budget negotiations.
Look for a full report on how the Chamber’s Legislative Agenda fared this year once Session ends.
Also, join us on Thursday, March 19th at 5:30 PM at the Roosevelt Marriot to hear from our local delegation members during our Legislative Recap in partnership with the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber and the St. Petersburg College Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions.