LegisLetter: March 25, 2019

Volume 26, Number 4

The Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate submitted their respective versions of the FY 2019-2020 state budget on Friday. Some say a budget is simply the embodiment policy priorities; if true, it is clear that the legislature has starkly different priorities.

The House focused primarily on cutting state expenditures in order to reduce the per capita spending in Florida. House Speaker Jose Oliva has publicly declared that the growth of spending in Florida is out of line with the growth in population. He has pointed specifically to two areas of state government as targets for reductions (healthcare and higher education). The budget reflected his goal; hospitals received an overall reduction of 3%, while every state university received a 2.5% cut. This would equate to an approximately $29 million recurring budget cut for Florida State University alone.

The House of Representatives have also expressed a strong desire to stop funding new higher education buildings, because they do not believe universities have made the best use of existing space or adequately leveraged the on-line delivery of education. For the first time in memorable history, the Florida House of Representatives required every higher education institution to justify building projects that were previously approved by the Board of Governors. The good news is two of the three projects presented by Florida State University were found meritorious (Interdisciplinary Research and Commercialization Building and The College of Business Legacy Hall). The House budget authorized us to build both. Unfortunately, the policy approval did not come with any new funding; they simply allow FSU to fund these two buildings using our own reserves.

Our third request was not approved (STEM Teaching Laboratory), but we did not lose the money secured in previous budgets for this project, as other universities experienced. Therefore, the STEM Teaching Lab will be eligible for continued future funding.

The Florida Senate included substantial new funding for Florida State University in their version of the state budget. They dedicated $80 million in recurring funds to be divided between the preeminent and emerging preeminent universities. They did not fund any new money for performance, graduate and professional degree programs, or the world class scholars program. As a result, all the new funds this year would be split by only four universities. There will be considerable pressure for the Senate to redistribute money among all 12 public universities.

The Senate did allocate approximately $100 million in new funds for buildings (PECO projects). Florida State had one project on the list:  $10 million for the Interdisciplinary Research and Commercialization Building. They did not fund the College of Business Legacy Hall or the STEM Teaching Lab (at this time).

Operational and building funds are two significant budget categories, but we have many more. This edition of the Legisletter includes a budget comparison on all of our line-items.

Overall, Governor DeSantis proposed a $91.3 billion spending plan last month. The House total is $89.9 billion, while the Senate figure is $90.3 billion. We have a long way to go to iron out the difference. We will be working diligently to overcome the House of Representatives cuts and secure critical funding for Florida State University.

In addition to all of the budget activity, policy bills continue to make their way through the process. However, this year it seems there are many priority bills that have no companions. Specifically, the House has several higher education reforms that would significantly rewrite our budget and operational functions. The Senate has not moved a single similar bill in their committees. The House has several Healthcare bills that have not moved. This dynamic makes it difficult to know which bills will ultimately become law. We continue to receive feedback on some of the troubling aspects of the higher education policy changes; while we are tracking them closely, it is likely that most of the serious debate on these measures will not take place until the very end of Session.

On the policy front, one bill that Florida State University is supporting (HB 727, Anti-hazing) was heard in the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, and received unanimous support. We expect the bill will be heard again this week in its last House and second-to-last Senate committee. This bill was created in response to the death of Florida State University student Andrew Coffey. His parents are the primary advocates and believe that had this bill been law, it would have prevented Andrew’s death.

We are just a few weeks away from FSU Days at the Capitol. This day of showcasing the excellent programs at Florida State University comes at a perfect time as we continue to fight for additional resources and good policy to help continue our rise in excellence. We hope to see many of you at the Capitol next month.

Thank you, once again, for your interest in Florida State University Government Relations.

Go Noles!

Kathy Mears

Budget Update

Both the House and Senate rolled out their initial budget proposals for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. While there is still a very long way to go, we wanted to keep you updated on the process. Following is a comparison of the two proposals.

Project House Higher Education Proposal Senate Higher Education Proposal
State University System Issues    
Performance Based Incentives $12,666,667 ($22,330,000)
Preeminent Funding ($20,000,000) $80,000,000
World Class Scholars ($10,000,008) $0
Professional & Graduate Degree Excellence Program ($5,000,002) $0
SUS FCO – Capital Improvement Fee Projects $44,000,000 $44,000,000
SUS FCO – Capital Improvement Fee Projects $0 $35,000,000
FSU Specific Issues    
FSU General Revenue $257,404,697 $303,262,960
——Boy & Girls State (R) $100,000  
——College of Law Scholarship/Faculty (R) $846,763  
——Florida Campus Compact (R)   $514,926
——Student Veterans Center(R) $500,000  
———Tallahassee Veterans Collaborative (NR) $200,000  
FSU – Student and Other Fees $238,310,773 $238,310,768
FSU – Lottery $58,038,044 $41,000,084
FAMU-FSU College of Engineering $14,484,361 $14,497,039
FSU College of Medicine $48,129,514 $48,172,862
FSU College of Medicine – Lottery $605,115 $605,115
—College of Business $0 $0
—Interdisciplinary Research Commercialization Bldg. (IRCB) *Proviso $10,000,000
—STEM Teaching Lab $0 $0
WFSU-TV/FM, Replace Technical Equipment at Satellite Ctr. $342,304 $342,304
FSU Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources Center $450,000 $450,000
FSU Autism Program $1,224,008 $1,224,008
Communication/Autism Navigator $1,353,292 $1,353,292
Public Broadcasting
Florida Channel Closed Captioning $390,862 $390,862
Florida Channel Satellite Transponder Operations $800,000 $800,000
Florida Channel Statewide Government & Cultural Affairs $497,522 $497,522
Florida Channel Year Round Coverage $2,562,588 $2,714,522
FSU – TV $363,346 $307,447
FSU - radio $100,000 $100,000
Honorably Discharged Graduate Assistance Program $1,000,000 $1,000,000
FSU – Rural NW FL Public Health Mosquito Surveillance (NR) $0 $0

*Proviso …universities are authorized to expend a portion of their carry forward fund balance as of June 30, 2019, for the purpose of completing the specified project for the amount listed which was previously funded with Public Education Capital Outlay appropriations.
Florida State University Interdisciplinary Research Commercialization Building (IRCB) $27,725,899

(R) = Recurring funds
(NR) = Non-recurring funds

Spotlight on Bills

HEA 01 – Higher Education/PECO, by Representative Randy Fine (R – Palm Bay), revises how universities and state colleges can use their carry forward funds, clarifies provisions relating to the Bright Futures Scholarship program and provides criteria to the Board of Education (BOE) and Board of Governors (BOG) for Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) projects recommended for funding. Specific provisions are as follows:

  • Transfers to other institutional funds: Limits the ability of colleges and universities to transfer funds from state funds to any other fund within the institution or a direct support organization without specific authorization from the Legislature.
  • Carry forward: Authorizes universities and colleges to use their carry forward funds each year for operations, for maintenance, or to finish previously funded PECO projects as specified in the bill. Requires approval of each carry forward spending plan by each Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors or Board of Education as appropriate.
  • Budget categories: Establishes that university budgets will be appropriated using traditional budget entities and categories used for other state agencies.
  • Bright Futures scholarship adjustment: Clarifies that Bright Futures eligibility is tied to achievement of ACT and SAT scores equivalent to the 89th and 75th percentile scores.
  • Space needs calculation: Modifies standards for calculation of space needs by colleges and universities including changing utilization rates for classrooms considered fully utilized to 80 percent utilized for 60 hours per week and for teaching lab space to 85 percent utilized for 40 hours a week.
  • PECO recommended list: Requires the BOG and BOE to develop a points based methodology to rank projects for recommendation for funding.
  • PECO appropriation estimate by Economic and Demographic Research (EDR): Requires EDR to adopt a public education capital outlay (PECO) appropriation estimate that incorporates an averaged bonding capacity through Fiscal Year 2022-23.

The proposed bill was workshopped in the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee last week and submitted as Committee Bill 5501.  There is no Senate companion at this time.

CS/HB 741 – Anti-Semitism by Representative Randy Fine (R – Palm Bay), defines anti-Semitism as a perception of the Jewish people, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jewish people. The bill provides examples of anti-Semitism, including:

  • Alleging myths about a world Jewish conspiracy or that they control the media, economy, government, or other institutions.
  • Accusing Jewish people as a whole of being responsible for real or imaginary wrongdoing by a single Jewish person, group, or the State of Israel, or for acts of non-Jews.
  • Accusing the Jewish people of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of countries other than Israel of being more loyal to Israel than their own nations.
  • Demonizing, applying a double standard to, or delegitimizing Israel.
  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying violence against Jewish people.

Discrimination on the basis of religion is not currently covered by Florida’s prohibitions of discrimination in public educational institutions. The bill prohibits discrimination against any public education system student or employee on the basis of religion, and requires a public educational institution to treat discrimination based on anti-Semitism in an identical manner to discrimination based on race.

The bill reported favorably by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.  A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1272 by Senator Joe Gruters (R – Sarasota, FSU Alum), has been referred to the Judiciary, Education and Rules committees, but has not yet been heard at this time.

SB 7030 – School Safety and Security by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), adds additional provisions to the school safety and security statute created in last year’s SB 7026 by addressing the school safety and security recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, and strengthens accountability and compliance oversight authority. Specifically, the bill:

  • Adds school security measures by:
    • Establishing a workgroup to review campus hardening policies and recommend a prioritized list of strategies for implementation and related policy and funding enhancements;
    • Prioritizing the use of the school security risk assessment tool;
    • Expanding the personnel who may serve as a school district’s school safety specialist to include certain law enforcement officers employed by the sheriff’s office; and
    • Expanding school district options and eligibility for participation in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
  • Adds student safety measures by:
    • Requiring improved school safety incident reporting;
    • Promoting the Fortify FL mobile suspicious activity reporting tool;
    • Expediting services for students with mental or behavioral disorders;
    • Requiring active assailant response policies;
    • Establishing a standardizing behavioral threat assessment instrument; and
    • Establishing a workgroup to make recommendations regarding the development of a statewide threat assessment database.
  • Provides school districts with greater flexibility to improve school safety by authorizing the transfer of additional categorical funds within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) towards school safety expenditures.

The bill was temporarily postponed by the Infrastructure and Security Committee last week due to committee differences regarding the school guardian program. The bill is rescheduled to be heard tomorrow.

SB 194 – Higher Education by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland), modifies higher education programs to improve state university data, provide greater opportunities for transfer students, and to inform students of college credit opportunities through examinations or dual enrollment. Specifically, the bill:

  • Requires the Office of the Inspector General of the Board of Governors of the State University System (BOG) to annually verify data used in the State University System Performance-Based Incentive and the preeminent state research universities program.
  • Requires the BOG to enter into an agreement with the Department of Economic Opportunity for access to individual reemployment assistance wage reports for auditing and evaluation purposes.
  • Establishes the “2+2” targeted pathway program to provide students guaranteed access to baccalaureate degree programs at state universities.
  • Requires each district school board to notify students in acceleration mechanisms of opportunities guaranteeing college credit for specified examinations for completion of dual enrollment courses. 

The bill reported favorably by the Education Committee last week and is now waiting to be heard in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.  The comparable bill in the House, HB 839 by Representative Ray Rodriguez (R – Ft. Myers), is waiting to be heard in the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

CS/CS/CS/SB 182 – Medical Use of Marijuana by Senator Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg), amends state laws related to the medical use of marijuana. The bill:

  • Eliminates the prohibition against the smoking of marijuana (cannabis) from the definition of the “medical use” of marijuana
  • Specifies that low-THC cannabis may not be smoked in public and prohibits the medical use of marijuana by smoking in an “enclosed indoor workplace,” as defined in the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act.
  • Permits a qualified patient and his or her caregiver to purchase and possess delivery devices for the medical use of marijuana by smoking from a vendor that is not a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC).
  • Prohibits the certification of marijuana for medical use by smoking to patients under the age of 18 unless such patient is diagnosed with a terminal condition.

The bill was signed into law by Governor DeSantis and is effective March 18, 2019, Chapter Law 2019-01.

CS/SB 1308 – Pathways to College and Career Success by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville), provides for greater access to credentials that prepare students for additional postsecondary education or a career. Specifically, the bill:

  • Requires the Florida Commissioner of Education to conduct an annual review of career and technical education offerings in the K-12 education system, career centers, and the Florida College System (FCS) to determine their alignment with employer demand, postsecondary degree or certificate programs, and industry certifications. As a result of the review, the commissioner must:
    • Phase out programs not aligned to the needs of employers or do not provide completers with middle- or higher-wage jobs.
    • Encourage school districts and FCS institutions to offer new programs that are in demand by employers.
    • Provide an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature summarizing findings and recommendations.
  • Expands access to associate in arts (AA) degrees by requiring:
    • The statewide articulation agreement to provide for a reverse transfer agreement to award AA degrees to students who transferred to a state university from an FCS institution before earning the AA degree, but have since completed requirements for the degree.
    • State universities to annually notify students of the option in law to request an AA certificate if they have successfully completed the requirements of the degree. Authorizes a state university or FCS institution to waive tuition and fees for a student who was enrolled between 5 and 10 years ago, and who successfully completed all but the equivalent of 10 percent of the required coursework for an associate or bachelor’s degree.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Education Committee tomorrow.  A similar bill in the House, HB 1407 by Representative Mel Ponder (R – Ft. Walton Beach, FSU Alum), is waiting to be heard in the Higher Education and Career Readiness Subcommittee.

CS/SB 1316 – Civic Education by Senator Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg), expands and enhances civics instruction in public schools. The bill creates the United States Government and Civic Engagement course and provides:

  • An option for students entering grade 9, in the 2020-2021 school year, to take one-half credit in United States Government and Civic Engagement.
  • A nonpartisan civic literacy project as the laboratory component of the United States Government and Civic Engagement course.

Additionally, the bill:

  • Creates the Florida Seal of Civic Engagement Program.
  • Provides an option for students initially enrolling in a Florida College System institution or state university to demonstrate competency in civic literacy by earning the Seal of Civic Engagement.
  • Requires the Department of Education (DOE) to include nonpartisan civic literacy projects when encouraging school districts to initiate, adopt, and expand service-learning programs and policies in kindergarten through grade 12.
  • Amends the school grading requirements beginning with the 2020-2021 school year to include the percentage of students who complete the United States Government and Civic Engagement course with a grade of “B” or higher in the calculation.

The bill reported favorably by the Education Committee last week.  The House companion, HB 1307 by Representative Dane Eagle (R – Cape Coral), is waiting to be heard by the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee.

SB 1366 – Education by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Lady Lake, FSU Alum), promotes options for education in computer science by:

  • Providing that a student may substitute one computer science credit for one science credit, excluding Biology I, in order to satisfy the credit requirements to earn a standard high school diploma;
  • Including high-quality professional development for teachers to provide instruction in computer science courses and content to the existing training that a school district or consortium of school districts may apply to the Department of Education for funding to deliver, subject to legislative appropriation; and
  • Increasing the number of potential certificates available to elementary and middle school students by doubling the limit on CAPE Digital Tool certificates that may be included on the Industry Certification Funding List.

The bill reported favorably by the Education Committee last week.  The House companion, HB 7055 by Representative Wyman Duggan (R – Jacksonville), is scheduled to be heard in the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee today.

HB 1197 – Charter Schools by Representative Jason Fischer (R – Jacksonville), authorizes state universities and Florida College System (FCS) institutions to sponsor charter schools. Present limitations on charter schools operated by an FCS institution with a teacher preparation program are repealed.

The bill provides that the board of trustees of a sponsoring state university or FCS intuition is a local educational agency for the purpose of receiving federal funds and accepting responsibility for all requirements in the role.

The bill requires the Department of Education (DOE), in collaboration with charter school sponsors and operators, to develop a sponsor evaluation framework and report results in its annual charter school application report. In addition, the bill revises charter school application reporting requirements and submission dates for both sponsors and the DOE. The bill establishes operational funding and capital outlay funding formulas for charter schools sponsored by a state university and FCS institution.

The bill reported favorably by the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee last week and is now in the Appropriations Committee.  A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1668 by Senator Travis Hutson (R – Palm Coast), has been referred to the Education Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and the Appropriations Committee.