2017 Florida Legislative Special Session Wrap-Up
Hey, they're back!
The Legislature wrapped up a hectic three-day Special Session today. Last week, the Governor called the Legislature back to do three things – increase funding to public schools, Enterprise Florida and VISIT Florida. He announced the special session in a press conference the same day he vetoed the Florida Education Finance Program funding (FEFP) and $409 million worth of member projects. The press conference was also attended by Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, suggesting that an agreement on these issues had been reached.
It soon became apparent that was not the case.
President Negron sent a memo to Senators saying they would add two issues that were outside of the Special Session call – an additional $100 million in funding to reduce cuts to hospitals and an override of the Governor’s vetoes on some higher education projects. He also indicated that instead of state funds being used to fund the $215 million increase for schools, the Senate would propose that most of the increase come from local school property taxes.
Reaction from the House was swift. In a strongly worded statement, Speaker Corcoran said the House would not entertain any of these Senate issues and accusing the President of breaking the deal. The President maintained he had never agreed to the outcome of the Special Session.
The Special Session began Wednesday with another announcement—the Governor would add the implementation of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment to the call. It appeared an agreement had been reached on this issue.
The Senate also voted to override the veto of the FEFP with a promise of adding more money. This was done as an “insurance policy” in case the Legislature failed to increase FEFP funding. The Senate also voted (by the necessary two-thirds majority) to override $75 million in project vetoes in higher education—mostly construction projects.
In the end, these extra issues fell by the wayside and the following issues made it out of the Special Session:
Medical Marijuana – A bill to implement the constitutional amendment was passed.
Public School Funding – Additional funding of $215 million was provided, with no changes to FEFP implantation language passed during the regular session. All the added money will come from state funds, no added property taxes. Under the bill agreed to by the Legislature, total per-student funding will be increased to $7,296.13, exactly $100.00 (1.4%) more than the current year and $75.51 more than the original budget passed in the 2017 Legislative Session. The $100 increase is made up of $94.65 of state funds and $5.35 from local Required Local Effort.
VISIT FLORIDA – House Bill 1A (HB 1A) increased funding of VISIT FLORIDA (VF) by $50 million ($76 million, the same level as this year.) A new program--the Targeted Marketing Assistance Program--was created to enhance the tourism business marketing of small, minority, rural, and agritourism businesses. No funding for the program is specified.
Enterprise Florida – HB1A allocates $16 million for the state’s economic development arm, Enterprise Florida (EFI). The EFI dollars cannot be used for incentive tools and programs not specified in the act. EFI must allocate $3.55 million to international programs, $2.05 million to maintain international offices and $1.0 million to continue the Florida Export Diversification and Expansion Programs. The increased funding for EFI and VF comes with increased oversight and transparency measures—covering salaries, contracts, travel expenses and other provisions,
The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund – An $85 million fund to allow the Governor to approve funds for public infrastructure and workforce training projects that improve economic development was included in HB1A. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and EFI may recommend projects to the Governor under this.
The Governor also added higher education funding and the Herbert Hoover dike to the call late in the session. The Senate amended HB1A to include $60 million in higher education projects vetoed by the Governor last week in return for $50 million for the dike, a priority of the Governor.