UW logo
            United Gazette
                                         Weekly News from the Capitol
Issue: #3March 25, 2013
A weekly update during the Florida Legislative Session, highlighting how United Way is working to make our community a better place to live.
Top News: Early Learning Bill Released, VPK Budget Cut
The House Education Committee released its draft early learning bill on Friday.  The 109-page bill addresses the School Readiness program and will be discussed in committee on Wednesday.  Meanwhile, the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee released its preliminary 2013-2014 budget, which includes a reduction of $8.3 million to the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program due to a reduced four-year-old population.
Quick Links
United Way Priority Agenda Issue: School Readiness
Policymakers and taxpayers often question whether the positive effects of school readiness programs, apparent in early grades, disappear in elementary and middle school.  A seven-year study by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers focuses on the long term effects of Preschool for New Jersey's poorest students.  It confirms that the benefits remain strong and contribute greatly to school success, with larger test score gains for children who participated in two years of preschool.
Healthy Florida - Senate Alternative to Medicaid Expansion


Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee heard a proposed alternative to Medicaid expansion. SPB 7038 by Committee Chair Joe Negron (R-Stuart) revises the Florida KidCare program and creates the 'Healthy Florida' program to provide private health insurance to people with incomes up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (about $16,000 for an individual and $27,000 for a family of three).  If Washington approves the plan Florida would qualify for about $51 billion in federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, with the state paying about $3 billion to cover an additional 1 million uninsured Floridians.

Florida KidCare: Lawfully Residing Immigrants

Federal law allows immigrant children lawfully residing in the United States to be covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  Now, under the Affordable Care Act, the state can also receive federal matching funds for these children. However, Florida law currently requires a five-year waiting period for lawfully residing immigrant children to be eligible for KidCare (Florida's CHIP).  SB 704 by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) and HB 4023 by Rep. Jose Diaz (R-Miami) remove the five-year wait.  Approximately 20,000 children would be affected by this legislation.  The cost to the state for 2013-14 is estimated to be $17.6 million, which would bring Florida an additional $43.1 million in federal matching funds.  The bills are waiting to be heard in committee.


Bills to Watch This Week:


CS/SB 102 and CS/HB 95 - Charitable Contributions: 


Under current law, a bankruptcy court can "claw back" (i.e., require the return of) charitable contributions at any time to pay creditors.  This legislation helps protect nonprofits from 'clawbacks', as long as the contributions are made in good faith.  Read more.

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.