February 26, 2024

Florida Budget Proposals in Brief: Education

This post is part of the “Florida Budget Proposals in Brief” blog series, where FPI highlights some of the key components of the House and Senate budget proposals — where they align, how they differ, and what it means for Floridians, communities, and the state economy. Overall, the Senate and House budget proposals for FY 2024-25 are quite similar. Unlike previous years, the joint budget conference committees will not have many significant differences to negotiate. Still, there are some notable variances, and the funding decisions have both fiscal and policy implications for the state.


The Florida Senate passed its fiscal year (FY) 2024-25 budget proposal (SB 2500), which totals $115.9 billion and represents a $578 million (or a 0.50 percent) reduction from the current budget.[1] The Florida House’s FY 2024-25 budget proposal (HB 5001) totals $115.5 billion and represents a $969 million (or a 0.83 percent) reduction compared to the current budget.

The next step in the budget process will be for a Joint Budget Commission to meet and reconcile any differences to propose a General Appropriations Act (GAA) for FY 2024-25. Both chambers will then vote on the proposed GAA, and once it is passed, it will be sent to the governor, who can make line item vetoes and sign the bill into law. The Legislature can then override vetoes if two-thirds of the members, in each chamber, vote to do so. The final budget will be enacted as of July 1, 2024.


K-12 Funding and Vouchers

The total funding proposed for K-12 education is $30.8 billion in the House and $31.2 billion in the Senate, a difference of $423 million between the two chambers. The majority of K-12 funds are accounted for in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), the formula that combines federal, state, and local funds used to calculate per pupil spending. The state portion of the FEFP was increased over the current-year budget in both chambers to $15.6 billion in the House and $15.4 billion in the Senate. The Base Student Allocation (BSA) — the most flexible spending bucket for schools — is increased in both budget proposals, and is nearly identical ($5,316 in the House and $5,315 in the Senate). Per pupil spending is also set at nearly identical amounts in both budget proposals — $8,936 in the House budget and $8,937 in the Senate.

While both chambers propose increases over the current year, Florida still ranks 43rd for per pupil expenditures, according to the National Education Association. Additionally, a 2023 law expanded private school vouchers to all Florida students eligible for K-12, regardless of income — this will continue to have significant fiscal impacts on K-12 funding and public school budgets. 

Private school vouchers are funded through general revenue and tax credits The House proposes $3 billion in general revenue for vouchers: $2.3 billion for the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) Program, the state’s education vouchers funded from education general revenue or FEFP, and $642.6 million from the State-Funded Discretionary Supplement, which was created in the 2023 legislative session. In comparison, the Senate proposes $2.8 billion, including $2.2 billion for FES and $623.4 million from the discretionary supplement.

This only reflects the general revenue part of the voucher spending and does not address the tax credit funded portion of vouchers. In regard to tax credits, up to $1.1 billion in spending is allowed for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for next fiscal year, plus the funds that Scholarship Funding Organizations are allowed to carry forward to fund vouchers. Added together, the $1.1 billion allowance for the Florida Tax Credit Program and roughly $3 billion in educational general revenue funds is close to the $4 billion cost for universal vouchers that FPI estimated in 2023.

Education Enrollment Supplemental Program

In 2023, legislators passed HB 5101, which created the Education Enrollment Supplemental Program (EESP) to address unanticipated fluctuations in student enrollment. In the current fiscal year, Florida’s Department of Education (DOE) anticipates spending $23.5 million for the EESP using funds appropriated in the FY 2023-24 budget.[2] While the House does not add funds to the EESP, its budget proposal for FY 2024-25 carries forward $125 million from the current fiscal year for the program.[3] In comparison, the Senate carries forward a maximum of $150 million from the current fiscal year for the EESP.[4] However, the Senate also proposes an additional $350 million for the EESP and specifies that the funds would be recurring in future fiscal years.[5]

Carrying funds forward, increasing the State-Funded Discretionary Supplement, and adding recurring dollars to the EESP in the Senate’s budget proposal suggests that DOE anticipates additional voucher enrollment in FY 2024-25. This is partially due to the Legislature increasing the cap for students with disabilities from 3 percent of the total Exceptional Student Education population to 5 percent, with an expected cost of $106 million (HB 1403/SB 7048). However, the full extent of the fiscal impact of Florida’s voucher expansion remains unclear. DOE is required by statute to publicly publish data on voucher expenditures and student characteristics, yet the department has lagged in providing the data in a timely, comprehensive, or transparent manner.

Early Learning and Child Care

Florida is in a child care crisis on both the supply and the demand side. The lack of affordable child care means many parents are unable to work or pursue their education, which costs Florida’s economy $5.4 billion annually. In Florida, a two parent household making minimum wage with one child pays between 13.2 percent and 23.5 percent of their monthly income on child care. Child care providers are unable to offer competitive wages to hire and retain employees, who are among the lowest paid workers in the state.

Both chambers propose modest increases in early learning and child care funding; the House recommends $1.7 billion and the Senate recommends $1.6 billion. Similarly, School Readiness and Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) programs saw slight increases in overall proposed funding in both budget proposals, as well as increases of 3-5 percent in both chambers’ proposed base student allocation.

An increased investment in child care and early learning is welcomed and there are two bills moving that will expand access by establishing a sliding fee scale (HB 929/SB 916) and making young children with disabilities a priority population (HB 847/SB 1400).

However, there were some missed opportunities during the 2024 legislative session that would have increased income eligibility thresholds for families with young children (HB 1437/SB 120 and HB 361/SB 342), increased the number of hours for the VPK program from three to eight (HB 427/SB 294) or addressed Florida’s child care cliff by making preschool universally available for children aged 0 to 4 (HB 1197/SB 1288). Though the House and Senate budgets provide some increased funding, the Legislature has not fully addressed the child care crisis.


[1] For analysis of top-line budget figures, FPI uses the current General Appropriations Act (FY 2023-24), including vetoes, for sections 1-7, which totals $116.5 billion. However, this does not include back-of-the-bill sections.  For the current GAA, including vetoes, plus back-of-the-bill appropriations, supplemental appropriations, and transfer totals, please see the Florida Legislature’s “Fiscal Analysis in Brief: 2023 Legislative Session: Chart 8.”

[2] Laws of Florida, Ch. 2023-239, sec. 54.

[3] Sec. 69 of House FY 2024-25 Budget.

[4] Sec. 17 of Senate FY 2024-25 Budget.

[5] Sec. 18 of Senate FY 2024-25 Budget.

Downloadable Resources

There are no attachments currently.
No items found.