After casting their final votes on the state budget on Friday, Florida legislators officially adjourned the 2018 legislative session, bringing an end to the state’s legislative year.
The General Appropriations Act, also known as Senate Bill 2500, was approved by both houses on day 60 of the regular session. It is anticipated that the final budget would be significantly larger than the one that was first envisioned, amounting to an estimated $117 billion, which is $7 billion more than the budget for the previous year.
There were multiple budget demands made by Governor Ron DeSantis, which added up to a total of $115 billion. The finished budget makes room for these requests, and it also includes pay raises for employees, improvements to infrastructure, a boost to education, tax reductions, and recruiting bonuses.
The Florida Education Finance Program, which is the primary source of financial support for the state’s public schools, allocates $27 billion annually for the state’s K-12 education budget. As a result of an increase in funding of $252.8 million, salaries for teachers in the classroom will be increased.
One hundred million dollars are going to be appropriated for the School Readiness program, twenty-four million dollars are going to be appropriated to create the Florida School of Competitive Academics, and five million dollars are going to be appropriated to adjust the start times of schools.
This year, the FEFP will get $2.2 billion more than it did last year, which will result in an increase in the amount of funding provided to each student to $8,648.
Every qualified kid in the Sunshine State will be able to apply for a scholarship worth $8,000 that may be used toward the cost of attending a private school or used to purchase other educational resources for children who are being homeschooled.
This benefit is made possible by a measure that was recently passed to expand education in Florida.
Higher education would get $8.3 billion, and the State University System would receive $350 million for performance-based incentives for faculty members, while the Florida College System would receive $155.7 million in financing.
An allocation of $36.2 million will be provided to each school district vocational college individually, bringing the total amount of funding for these colleges to a total of $114.2 million.
Baby diapers, adult incontinence products, and over-the-counter pet drugs are some of the common items that will no longer be subject to the state’s sales tax as a result of the budget, which contains tax relief worth $3 billion.
The appropriation for health care in the budget is $47.3 billion, which includes $125 million for initiatives to increase the quality of care in nursing homes, $20.6 million to increase the income eligibility for KidCare coverage, and $295.4 million to address the opioid crisis by providing prevention and treatment services.
As part of the overall expenditure of $6.7 billion for the judicial system, the Department of Corrections will get $33 million specifically for its budget.
After $29.5 million was allotted to the Inmate Welfare Trust Fund, the Department of Law Enforcement will have access to $24.5 million for information technology and investigative and protective equipment, and inmates in state correctional facilities will have increased access to wellness resources.
In addition, the requirements for infrastructure will be satisfied with an authorization of $20.9 billion, which includes the total financing of $13.6 billion for the Transportation Work Program, which is organized to take place over the course of a period of 5 years.
Road projects that are intended to ease traffic congestion will have access to an additional $4 billion in cash, allowing for their acceleration. Local transportation projects will get a total of 401 million dollars, and an additional 100 million dollars will be allocated toward increasing access to high-speed internet.
Additional funding in the amount of $7.5 billion has been designated for the preservation of Florida’s natural resources.
This funding includes $694.6 million for the restoration of the Everglades, $320 million for the Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan and other planning grants, and $206 million for the preservation of beaches and the restoration of sand dunes.