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State Budget Developed in Public, Negotiated in Private, Fails to Address State Needs

The $82.1 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18 represents a 1 percent increase in a year that funding could have been appropriated to better meet the needs of Floridians. After adjusting for inflation and population growth, the new budget reflects a decrease of 3 percent in support for needed services. Economic growth and prosperity requires a more substantial strategic investment in opportunities for working families.

The budget fails to provide adequate support for economic growth, which would benefit all Floridians. Additionally, the new budget is notable for the lack of transparency and accountability in its development and adoption and for the significant policy changes in conforming bills that were pushed through on a “take it or leave it” basis.

FPI Staff
June 2017

Overview

With the conclusion of special session on June 9, the process for establishing the budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017-18 budget is complete. This report incorporates legislative action during the regular session, the Governor Rick Scott’s vetoes of the original budget and the subsequent budget decisions adopted during special session.

By the end of the regular legislative session, the Florida State Legislature had created a state budget of $82.4 billion for FY 2017-18, an increase of $70 million over the prior year. In education alone, per-student funding for K-12 education increased by $24 (0.34 percent), an insufficient amount to cover retirement and health insurance costs for teachers.

The governor vetoed almost $12 billion in the budget, including $11.5 billion in public school funding. Aside from the public school funding, the vetoes may be categorized as appropriations for:

  • A specific public entity that bypassed normal approval procedures
  • A specific community that could be funded from local funds
  • A specific vendor
  • Those for which there is no clear statewide return on investment.

The governor called the Legislature back into session to increase public school funding to at least $100 per student, create a Florida Job Growth Grant Fund and increase funding for Visit Florida. He subsequently added funding for higher education, medical marijuana implementation and funding for the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee to the issues for consideration during special session.

The Legislature addressed the governor’s issues during special session by increasing public school funding by $215 million to reach a per-student increase of $100. The Legislature also appropriated an additional $302 million, two-thirds of which is for economic development purposes. The special session additions will be addressed in their respective budget sections.

Including vetoes and special session appropriations, the FY 2017-18 state budget increases spending by almost $282 million. The $82.1billion total budget represents a 1 percent increase over current year funding. Florida’s growing population and aging infrastructure suggest that this increase is insufficient to maintain the quality of life that Floridians deserve. This analysis expands on the summary that the Florida Policy Institute (FPI) released prior to the end of legislative session, providing an in-depth look at the budget.

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