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May 26, 2005
Melanie Mowry Etters
Governor Bush Signs Fiscally Responsible Budget Providing Increases to Vital State Services
Increased funds for education, economic diversification and health and human services
TALLAHASSEE Governor Jeb Bush today signed a state budget into law that increases funding for priorities including education, health and human services and public safety while cutting taxes and building state reserves to near record levels. Florida's economy continues to be among the strongest in the country. Despite enduring four hurricanes last year, the state's budget grew 3.8 percent to $64.7 billion.
"Together, we have created a strong cycle of self-sustaining success. I applaud the hard work of the Florida Legislature in preparing this budget," Governor Bush said. "Thanks to the resolve of hundreds of thousands of Floridians, we are recovering from last year's hurricane season. The budget I am signing today funds our priorities at higher levels than ever before. We have reserves that will protect us from unforeseen challenges and demands, and we are reaping the benefits of six years of fiscal discipline."
As the state continues to recover from four catastrophic storms that struck our state last year, Florida is achieving remarkable milestones in several areas.
- All three of the major credit rating agencies Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor's recently upgraded Florida's bond rating, including Florida's first ever triple A rating.
- Florida set a new record by welcoming 76.8 million visitors in 2004, a three percent increase from 2003, retaining our title as the top travel destination in the world. Tourists injected $57 billion into Florida's economy, an almost 11 percent increase from the prior year.
- Florida has led the nation in job growth for three years. Last week the Governor announced the creation of 224,700 new jobs from May 2004 to April 2005. During the same period, the state's unemployment rate remained a full point below the national average.
- Florida's students continue to show high achievement on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The results show Florida's students are reading and performing math at higher levels than ever before, with some of the highest gains coming from the areas hardest hit by the four hurricanes.
Florida's current fiscal year budget, including emergency, hurricane related and other amendments, totals a little more than $62.3 billion. The fiscal year 2005-2006 budget is $2.4 billion more than current year. The 2005-06 budget also calls for reserves of $5.5 billion, including the nearly $180 million from vetoes and adds a record $1.4 billion in the Working Capital Fund. Additionally, Floridians will enjoy $204 million in tax relief through the back-to-school and hurricane preparation tax holidays this summer, reduction in the intangibles tax, and other measures. In the seven years since 1999, Floridians have enjoyed a cumulative $14 billion in tax relief.
Since taking office, Governor Bush has focused on improving student achievement and ensuring all Florida's children receive a quality education, creating a better future for the state's most vulnerable citizens, diversifying the economy, adopting public safety reforms and improving domestic security. Individuals from all around the state joined Governor Bush in highlighting these elements of the budget, including:
- A. Louis Parker, COO, GE Infrastructure Security: Today, as part of the budget roll out, Governor Bush welcomed GE Infrastructure Security's global headquarters to Manatee County. A subsidiary of General Electric with operations in more than 30 countries, GE Infrastructure Security's COO, A. Louis Parker, announced - alongside Governor Bush - his operation's decision to locate in Bradenton, creating 70 new jobs paying over 200 percent above the Manatee County local average wage. GE Infrastructure Security will also make initial capital investments totaling $6 million in equipment relocation and worker recruitment.
- Matt DeBoer, Charlotte County Commissioner: The state budget continues to provide support for communities severely impacted by last year's storms. In Charlotte County $1.5 million will be used to build a state-of-the-art public safety complex that can survive the most severe storm, and $5 million will be used for a new health department building to provide health care after major storm events.
- Idelio Valdez, Motivational Speaker: Idelio has cerebral palsy;
one of the conditions served by the Agency for Person's with Disabilities
(APD) and has benefited directly from the Family & Supported Living Waiver,
one of the items addressed in the budget. Through programs in the waiver he
has become independent and works as a motivational speaker for persons with
disabilities. Funding for that waiver increased by seventy-five percent to
nearly $50 million. Funding for the Home and Community Based Services waiver
increased to almost $750 million.
Overall we have budgeted more than $1 billion for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to serve citizens like Idelio and their families.
- Lt. Col. Mike Canzoneri, National Guard: Thanks to the money in the budget for Armory upgrades and refurbishment, the Guard will be better prepared to respond to emergencies here at home and to protect our nation overseas. This money improves Armory operations and training facilities for the soldiers serving our country. The Florida Readiness money gives the Guardsmen the comfort to know that Florida is caring for their families while they are serving our nation.
- Janet Newsome, Reading Coach, Riley Elementary: Janet has been teaching since 1972 in the 2nd through 5th grades and at the community college level. For the past three years, she has served as a Reading Coach in Leon County. She also serves the state as a Just Read, Florida! teacher trainer, bringing her expertise in instruction to her colleagues statewide. She has degrees in both Exceptional Student Education and Reading, from Florida universities. The Just Read, Florida! Office will receive $10 million to provide teacher and principal training on a statewide basis and give assistance to school districts with diagnostic assessments of struggling readers, like Ms. Newsome has done for many years.
Other areas of the budget highlighted by Governor Bush include:
- Public School Funding: Florida's public schools will see a $1.3 billion (almost 9 percent) increase in funds next year, for a total of $16.4 billion. Governor Bush has increased education funding in the past seven years by $6.1 billion or 54 percent, and per student funding in the past seven years has increased by $1,564 or 32 percent, including a $355 (6 percent) per student increase next year. The budget includes $1.5 billion for class size reductions, an increase of $556 million over the current year. The state has now committed $2.96 billion in operating funds for the first three years of the class size implementation period and $700 million for capital outlay.
- State Universities/Community Colleges: Florida's state universities will receive a $144.8 million increase, which includes $34.6 million from a 5 percent tuition increase, to accommodate enrollment growth and operating costs for a total operating budget of $3 billion. Our world-class community college system will receive a $63.6 million (4.5 percent) increase, in operating funds, which includes $21.6 million from a 5 percent tuition increase for a total budget of $1.6 billion.
- Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten: The 2005-06 budget includes $395 million to implement the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program. These funds will provide $2,500 for each of the approximately 145,000 four-year old students expected to participate in the program. Additionally, early learning coalitions will receive five percent for administrative costs they may incur.
- Reading Programs: The public school funding formula, the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), will receive $89 million for reading instruction, intervention and teacher training in scientifically-based reading instruction methods to ensure a permanent focus is given to reading in each grade and school throughout the state. The Just Read, Florida! Office will receive $10 million to provide teacher training on a statewide basis and give assistance to school districts with diagnostic assessments of struggling readers. The $99 million is an 11 percent increase over state funds for reading in 2004-05. With an additional $58 million in federal funding, Florida is investing $157 million in reading initiatives in 2005-06.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES:
- Child Welfare: Continuing Governor Bush's mission to protect all Florida's vulnerable residents, this budget includes $998 million for child welfare. Since 1999, Governor Bush has increased funding for child safety by 137.1 percent. Governor Bush remains committed to enhancing community-based services for children by providing $10.5 million for the second year to achieve equity among the community based care lead agencies; $4.4 million for equity funding for the five sheriffs providing child protective investigations; start-up funding to the Hillsborough County sheriff; $5 million to continue to promote permanency for children through adoptions and independent living; and $15.9 million to prevent child abuse.
- Developmental Services: The budget also includes $1.2 billion for the developmentally disabled, an increase of $67.3 million or 5.8 percent over current year funding. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities works in partnership with local communities to ensure the safety, well-being and self-sufficiency for more than 30,000 Floridians with developmental disabilities. Funding for the developmentally disabled program has increased by $721.9 million (143.6 percent) since 1998-1999.
- Mental Health Services: This budget includes $1.1 billion in total funding for community mental health services for adults and children. This is an increase of $66.6 million or 6.6 percent over the current year. Funding includes $6.4 million to increase the capacity of adult and child crisis stabilization units and to appropriately divert individuals with mental illness from civil and forensic state hospitals, and $2.8 million to enhance security at the state's facility for Sexually Violent Predators. One million dollars is provided to increase enrollment in the Statewide Inpatient Psychiatric Program (SIPP). This funding will eliminate the wait list for seriously emotionally disturbed and mentally ill children and adolescents who meet the requirements for these residential services
- Community-Based Long Term Care for Elders: The budget includes $616.2 million for community-based care initiatives for the elderly, a $103 million increase (20 percent) over the current fiscal year. These community-based care initiatives include Medicaid waiver services that provide seniors with an alternative to traditional nursing home care in their community. The budget appropriates $120.2 million for waiver services, an increase of $11.0 million (10 percent) over the current fiscal year. This funding will provide care for more than 1,500 individuals currently classified at the highest level of need for nursing home placement.
- Medicaid: Medicaid consumes nearly 25 percent of the state budget,
which limits resources for other priorities, such as education, transportation,
and the environment. Florida's Medicaid program grew 11 percent over the current
fiscal year to a record $15.5 billion that includes $397.1 million for the
current year deficit. Medicaid will provide services to more than 2.2 million
of our most vulnerable beneficiaries. Since 1999, Medicaid costs have risen
Governor Bush proposed the transformation of the current Medicaid system through empowering participants to choose managed care plans that will best meet their needs. This new system will spur innovation and efficiency among providers in a competitive environment. In partnership with the Legislature, the Agency for Health Care Administration is directed by SB 838 to seek a Medicaid waiver for this innovative statewide initiative. Implementation of this model will provide cost predictability and improve quality of care.
- State Employee Health Saving Accounts: The budget authorizes state employees to enroll in a new health care option, High Deductible Health Plans and Health Savings Accounts (HSA) in both the Preferred Provider and Health Maintenance Organizations. The HSA will allow employers and employees to contribute to a tax-exempt account. The state will contribute $500 annually for individual coverage and $1,000 for family coverage. The budget also allocates $1 million to develop and implement a state employee education and awareness campaign.
PUBLIC SAFETY/DOMESTIC SECURITY
- Public Safety Programs: One of Governor Bush's top priorities is ensuring the safety of visitors and residents of Florida. In 2003, Florida experienced its lowest crime rate in 33 years. The state will spend $4.71 billion on public safety programs and projects next year. This funding has increased 33.1 percent since 1998-99.
- Domestic Security: Since September 11, domestic security has emerged as one of the most critical public safety issues, and Florida has emerged as a national model for domestic security. Florida has invested $639.1 million in state and federal funds to enhance security in our state and prepare for any disaster. With this budget, Florida will invest another $101.6 million to bring this total to over $740.7 million.
- Military Affairs: The Florida National Guard is an integral part of homeland security with National Guardsmen being deployed overseas as well as being deployed during the hurricanes that hit Florida last year. In support of the Florida National Guard, the budget provides $7.3 million for continued armory renovations statewide. In addition, the Family Readiness Program provides $5 million to assist families of deployed Guardsmen and Reservists in meeting financial emergencies.
- Everglades/Land Conservation: Florida will continue to balance growth with environmental protections. This year the state will spend $2.8 billion to preserve and protect Florida's environment including an additional $100 million for continued Everglades restoration. The state will invest another $7 million for local wastewater systems in Monroe County to protect the Florida Keys. Additionally the Governor will invest $300 million in the Florida Forever program. This brings the state's total investment to $1.8 billion since the program began in 2001, while building upon the foundation of the $3 billion that was invested through the Preservation 2000 conservation program.
- Hurricane Recovery and Preparedness: The state will invest $1.3 billion, $1.1 billion federal and $163.2 million in state matching funds, in continued disaster recovery assistance. The 2005-06 budget also provides $250 million for affordable housing hurricane response. These funds will provide $208 million to county governments for housing recovery (homeownership) and $42 million for rental recovery.
- Economic Development: The state will invest $114.9 million in economic stimulus programs next year to drive growth and create more opportunities for Floridians. This funding includes a 3.8 percent increase in economic development incentives to attract and retain jobs in the state. Governor Bush recently announced the most recent employment numbers, highlighting that Florida has the fastest rate of annual job growth among the 10 most populous states.
- Military Installations: The budget signed today by Governor Bush also includes strategic funding for the state's military installations and host communities. Governor Bush is investing $7.4 million next year to support the state's installations and the $44 billion defense industry they anchor.
- Tourism/Film Industry: The 2005-06 budget provides $24.7 million for programs to support tourism, a 19.3 percent increase, as well as $10 million in incentives to promote the state's film industry.
For more information on the state budget please visit, www.myflorida.com.
Please find attached charts and veto letter.