March 12, 2018

Statement on Florida House and Senate Passage of 2018-19 Budget

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

The Florida House and Senate yesterday passed an $88.7 billion budget, a 4.4 percent increase over the current fiscal year.

While leaders touted ‘unprecedented’ per-pupil funding levels in K-12, they remain far below pre-recession funding levels when accounting for inflation. Lawmakers also raided the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund, sweeping $182 million into the General Revenue Fund. At the same time, Florida lawmakers approved a $169 million tax reduction package, while the state is already forgoing $18 billion in revenue in the current fiscal year through credits and exemptions.

Additionally, the state once again missed the opportunity to expand Medicaid to more than 500,000 low-income Floridians. The state could draw down billions more in federal funding by expanding the program and free up $500 million in state dollars to reinvest in mental health care, affordable housing, our public schools and colleges and universities.

The budget did include additional funding for several key programs that are crucial for meaningful criminal justice reform. For example, lawmakers increased investment in physical and mental health treatment and approved a pay raise for probation and detention officers.

In order to build thriving communities, the state needs to make fiscal decisions that will help improve the health and well-being of its residents. Unfortunately, we did not see that in this year’s budget.

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