UW logo
            United Gazette
                                         Weekly News from the Capitol
Issue: #1March 11, 2013
A weekly update during the 2013 Florida Legislative Session, highlighting how United Way is working to make our community a better place to live.
United Gazette is launched!

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the United Gazette!  The Gazette will arrive in your mailbox every Monday during the 2013 Florida Legislative Session.  It will highlight the week's legislative activities, focusing on education, health, human service and nonprofit issues.  Enjoy it, learn from it and have a great 2013 Session!
Quick Links
Florida's United Ways: 2013 Priority Agenda
Florida's 32 United Ways are working together to solve the most pressing education, income, health, and safety net challenges facing our communities.  The 2013 Florida United Way Consensus Legislative Agenda focuses on four statewide priorities:
  • Early Learning:  increase access and program quality.
  • Home and Community Care for the Elderly: increase funding.
  • Homelessness: restore $3 million in funding.
  • KidCare: expand eligibility.
Florida's Budget Surplus


Florida's economy and budget picture look brighter this year.  Unemployment is at its lowest rate in four years.  General revenue is estimated to increase next fiscal year, giving the state a $400+ million surplus, the first in five years. Governor Scott's proposed budget is the largest in Florida's history: $74.2 billion.  But the legislature, not the Governor, decides on the final budget. Senate Appropriations Chair Joe Negron (R-Stuart) and House Appropriations Chair Seth McKeel (R-Lakeland) will release initial budget allocations soon and intense negotiations are likely.  In addition, the effects of the federal sequestration cuts on Florida's economy and revenues are still unknown.  Read more.

Early Learning Advocacy: A New Approach

Access to quality early learning is a top priority for Florida United Ways.  This session, for the first time, a diverse group of state early childhood advocates is meeting weekly in Tallahassee to build consensus around key early learning issues.  They've agreed on: increased funding for the School Readiness program; local flexibility for Early Learning Coalitions (ELCs); and a governance structure for the Office of Early Learning.  The House will take the lead on drafting an early learning bill, with Education Committee Chair Marlene O'Toole bringing a fresh, energetic approach.  Chair O'Toole required each committee member to visit a local ELC to meet with staff, board chairs and funded childcare providers. She declared, "When we make changes to early learning, the committee members will understand exactly why."  Read more.

Bills to Watch This Week:


CS/HB 215 is heading for a House vote this week, with strong, bipartisan support. It creates the "Quality Parenting for Children in Foster Care Act".  The bill recognizes the importance of normalizing the lives of children in foster care, clarifies that those children are entitled to participate in age appropriate activities, and empowers caregivers to make decisions about their participation using their own assessments as caregivers based on a reasonable and prudent parent standard.

Questions or Comments?
If you have questions or comments regarding the United Gazette and how United Way is working in Tallahassee to support your community, contact Ted Granger or Jess Scher.