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Issue | March 1, 2016 

Top News: Joint Budget Conference Committees Wrap and Bump Up
TED Budget Conference Committee Chair Rep. Clay Ingram (left) and Vice-Chair Sen. Jack Latvala.
The Joint Budget Conference Committees concluded their deliberations late Monday and 'bumped up' all the remaining unresolved issues to the Appropriations Chairs, Senator Tom Lee and Representative Richard Corcoran.  Read more about United Way budget priorities below.
 
There was good news for United Way's appropriations request to expand free tax preparation and financial education services throughout Florida. The Transportation and Economic Development (TED) Budget Conference Committee agreed to fund the 'United Way of Florida Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program' at $500,000.  Please thank TED Conference Committee Chair Rep. Clay Ingram (R-Pensacola) and Vice-Chair Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), as well as the House and Senate sponsors, Rep. George Moraitis (R-Ft. Lauderdale) and Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville), for their support.
Early Learning Budget Issues 'Bumped'
Education Budget Conference Committee Chair Rep. Erik Fresen (right) and Vice Chair Sen. Don Gaetz (left).
The Education Budget Conference Committee negotiations broke down on Sunday evening after failing to reach agreement on some key issues including teacher bonuses and higher education funding. The committee agreed on an increase in publlc school ('FEFP') funding, to be paid for with state dollars rather than local property tax increases, however the increase is less than what the Governor had proposed. The final 'all-or-nothing' Senate budget offer was rejected by the House and as a result, all the remaining budget issues, other than the FEFP funds, were 'bumped up' to the Appropriations chairs. United Way's early learning priorities will have to be resolved at that level since there are still small but significant differences between the House and Senate budgets for School Readiness, Voluntary Prekindergarten, TEACH and Help Me Grow.
Affordable Housing Compromise Funding
TED Budget Conference Committee members work to resolve their budget differences.
On Sunday, the Transportation and Economic Development (TED) Budget Conference Committee reached agreement on the Sadowski affordable housing funds. The House accepted the Senate offer of $200.1 million, essentially splitting the difference between the Senate's initial $317 million proposal, which kept all the Sadowski trust funds in affordable housing, and the $141 million initial House proposal, which swept more than half of the Sadowski funds into General Revenue. The $200.1 million is divided, witthe 'State Housing Initiatives Partnership' (SHIP) receiving $135.5 million and the 'State Apartment Incentive Loan' (SAIL) program receiving $64.6 million.
 
Sadowski Act funds support state and local affordable housing programs, including SHIP and SAIL, that operate alongside federal housing programs.  Read more here.
Health Budget Includes Expanded KidCare, Hospital Charity Care (LIP) Funding Formula
Health Budget Conference Committee Chair Rep. Matt Hudson (left) and Vice Chair Sen. René Garcia (right).
The Health Budget Conference Committee agreed to include the necessary funding ($28 million in federal dollars) to expand the Florida KidCare program to cover lawfully-residing immigrant children in Florida. The bill authorizing the expansion by lifting the 5-year eligibility ban for these children will be heard on the House Floor later this week.
 
The committee also reached agreement late Monday on a plan for allocating the state's Low Income Pool (LIP) funds to hospitals providing charity care. The plan distributes federal LIP dollars using a tiered formula based on the amount of charity care a hospital provides. The federal government reduced Florida's LIP funds by $400 million this year; with further reductions anticipated in future years.
Bills to Watch This Week
Bills that are scheduled to be heard by the full House and Senate this week include:

CS/CS/SB 242 and CS/CS/HB 81 Infectious Disease Elimination (Braynon, D-Miami Gardens and Edwards, D-Sunrise) Authorizes the University of Miami and its affiliates to establish a sterile needle and syringe exchange pilot program in Miami-Dade County; provides that the possession, distribution, or exchange of needles and syringes under the pilot program is not a violation of the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act or any other law.

CS/CS/HB 7087 and CS/CS/SB 1686 Telehealth (House Select Committee on Health Care Affordability and Bean, R-Jacksonville) HB 7087 provides practice standards & registration requirements to provide telehealth services; requires state agencies to collect and to report certain information to the Governor & Legislature. SB 1686 creates the Telehealth Task Force within the Agency for Health Care Administration.
 
CS/CS/CS/HB 153 Healthy Food Financing Pilot (State Affairs and Santiago, R-Deltona) Creates Healthy Food Financing Initiative Pilot Program; directs DACS to provide specified financing to construct, rehabilitate, or expand grocery stores & supermarkets in underserved communities in low-income & moderate-income areas.
 
CS/HB 89 Florida KidCare Program (Health Care Appropriations and Diaz J., R-Miami) Provides eligibility for optional payments for medical assistance & related services for certain lawfully residing children; clarifies that undocumented immigrants are excluded from eligibility for optional Medicaid payments or related services; provides appropriation. 
Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.