This week, the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate passed their recommended budgets for the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2024-2025. Each legislative chamber’s recommended state budget serves as an important statement of their priorities as work on developing a balanced state budget continues. The Florida Legislature is constitutionally required to pass a state budget, officially titled as the General Appropriations Act, during the annual regular session.
The House and Senate’s proposed budgets for SFY 2024-2025 total approximately $115.5 billion and $115.9 billion, respectively. The chart below compares the two chambers’ proposals:
Health and Human Services received the largest portion of funding for the House and Senate’s proposed budgets for SFY 2024-2025, totaling approximately $46 billion in each chamber. The state’s combined Education programs and services received the second largest proportion of funding, totaling approximately $30.8 billion and $31.2 billion, respectively.
Finally, Natural Resources, Environmental Issues, Growth Management and Transportation Expenditures represent the third largest portion of the House and Senate’s proposed budgets for SFY 2024-2025 with funding totaling $22.7 billion and $23 billion, respectively.
Proposed general revenue expenditures for House and Senate SFY 2024–2025 budgets equal approximately $47.2 billion and $47.7 billion, respectively, while trust fund expenditures total approximately $68.4 billion and $68.3 billion, respectively. The chart below compares expenditures between the proposed House and Senate SFY 2024–2025 budgets by fund type.
COUNTY FUNDING HIGHLIGHTS
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Shared County/State Juvenile Detention: The House and Senate proposed budget estimates the counties’ portion of county/state cost-sharing for Juvenile Detention to be $73.6 million.
Community Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services: Funded at approximately $1.25 billion in the House proposed budget and $1.27 billion in the Senate’s proposed budget.
Community Action Treatment (CAT) Teams: $41.6 million the House and Senate budget directed to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to contract with providers throughout the state for operation of CAT teams, which provide community-based services for children (aged 11 to 21) with mental health and/or substance abuse diagnoses.
Public Safety, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Local Matching Grant Program: $9 million for the program in both the House and Senate proposed budgets, which supports county programs that serve adults or youth who are in behavioral crisis and at risk of entering the criminal justice system.
Crime Labs: The House and Senate proposed budgets allocate approximately $79.1 million and $71.1 million respectively, in grants and aids to local governments for criminal investigations.
Homeless Programs Challenge Grants: The House and Senate proposed budgets allocate approximately $20 million each, to DCF for challenge grants, which are awarded to lead agencies of homeless assistance continuums of care.
AGRICULTURAL & ENVIRONMENT
Water Quality Highlights:
- Septic-to-Sewer Improvements: The House and Senate budget proposals each allocate $135 million to the Wastewater Grant Program, established in s. 403.0673, F.S., providing grant funding for projects to construct, upgrade or expand wastewater facilities, to provide advanced wastewater treatment, and to convert private septic tanks to public sewer networks.
- Water Quality Enhancement and Accountability: The proposed House and Senate budgets allocate $10.8 million for increased water quality monitoring, the creation of a water quality public information portal, and for the establishment of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Funds may be used for administration and planning costs. The task force will support key restoration initiatives to expedite nutrient reduction in Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. The task force will identify priority projects based on scientific data and build upon existing Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) to provide the greatest nutrient reductions in key waterbodies, as well as make recommendations for regulatory changes. The Senate budget specifically earmarks $4 million in nonrecurring funds to the Department of Environmental Protection to expand statewide water quality analytics for the nutrient over-enrichment assessment and water quality information portal.
- Water Quality Improvement Grant Program:
- The House and Senate allocate $50 million for reductions in harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries (Everglades)
- The House and Senate allocate $100 million and $25 million respectively for improvement projects within the proximity of the Indian River Lagoon.
- The House and Senate allocate $20 million for septic-to-sewer and advanced wastewater projects, to improve the water quality of Biscayne Bay.
- Total Maximum Daily Loads:
- The House and Senate allocate $50 million and $20 million respectively to DEP for innovative water treatment projects that demonstrate the ability to most rapidly achieve department verified phosphorous and/or nitrogen load reductions consistent with the nutrient load reduction goals and total maximum daily loads established by the department. The department may also provide cost-share funding for innovative nutrient removal projects.
- Harmful Algal Blooms: The House and Senate allocate $15.6 million for innovative technologies and short-term solutions for addressing harmful algal blooms in fresh waterbodies; funds may be used for the red tide emergency grant program and to support local government efforts in cleaning beach and coastal areas. Funds may also be used to implement water quality treatment technologies, identified by the department, near water control structures in Lake Okeechobee.
- Springs Restoration: The House and Senate proposed budgets allocate $50 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for land acquisition to protect springs and for capital projects that protect the quality and quantity of water that flow from springs.
- Alternative Water Supply: The proposed House budget allocates $80 million, while the Senate version allocates $20 million to the water supply and water resource development grant program to help communities plan for and implement conservation, reuse and other water supply and water resource development projects. The House includes language to provide priority funding to regional projects in the areas of greatest need and for projects that provide the greatest benefit. The department shall identify and research all viable alternative water supply resources and provide an assessment of funding needs critical to supporting Florida’s growing economy.
Florida Forever: The proposed House and Senate budgets allocate $100 million for the acquisition of environmentally endangered and unique/irreplaceable lands.
Florida Recreation Development Assistance Grants: House $10 million; Senate $14.3 million.
Beach Management Funding Assistance Program: The House and Senate allocate $50 million provided to the Department of Environmental Protection for distribution to beach and inlet management projects consistent with any component of the comprehensive long-term management plan developed in accordance with section 161.161, Florida Statutes. Funds may be used in accordance with section 161.101, Florida Statutes, for projects on annual ranked lists, storm repair projects, or projects on lands managed by the state.
Resilient Florida programs: The House and Senate allocate $200 million and $100 million, respectively, to the Department of Environmental Protection for the Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan. In the event that projects included in the plan are unable to continue or if excess funds are identified by completed projects, the department may reallocate funds to projects on its Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan to the next project on the ranked list or to projects already funded in year one that have identified funding needs in subsequent years. Additionally, the House and Senate each allocate $20 million for Resilient Florida planning grants to fund preconstruction activities.
Mosquito control programs: The House and Senate proposed budgets allocate approximately $3.7 million.
TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
- State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program: The House and Senate each appropriated $174 million for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP).
- Affordable Housing Programs: The Legislature appropriated $234 million for the Housing Finance Corporation (HFC) Affordable Housing Program.
- Hometown Heroes Housing Program: The House allocates $75 million to the Hometown Heroes program, making homeownership affordable for eligible frontline community workers such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare employees, and active military or veterans.
Job Growth Grant Fund: The proposed House budget allocates $25 million, while the Senate version allocates $75 million.
Visit Florida: The proposed House budget allocates $30 million, while the Senate version allocates $80 million.
Transportation Disadvantaged Grants and Aids: The proposed House and Senate budgets allocate approximately $59.4 million for improved service delivery for transportation disadvantaged individuals.
Small County Outreach Program (SCOP): The proposed House and Senate budgets allocate approximately $88.2 million.
Small County Resurface Assistance Program (SCRAP): The proposed House and Senate budgets allocate approximately $26.5 million.
Rural Economic Development:
- Broadband: The House and Senate allocate $100 million for Florida’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program (BEAD), which funds broadband Internet planning, deployment, mapping, equity, and adoption activities with a goal of providing high-speed, reliable broadband Internet service access to all Florida communities.
- Rural Infrastructure Fund: The House allocates $17 million, and the Senate allocates $32 million to support local rural infrastructure projects such as broadband, roads, storm and wastewater systems, and telecommunications facilities.
Library Grants and Library Cooperatives: The House and Senate proposed budgets allocate $21.5 million.
Fiscally Constrained County Funding: Both the proposed House and Senate budgets allocate $71.1 million, to offset the impacts of previously approved constitutional amendments on fiscally constrained counties.
Emergency Distributions: The proposed House and Senate budgets allocate $34.4 million in emergency distribution revenue sharing for small counties.
Local Cybersecurity Grant Program: Neither proposed budget provides local funding for cybersecurity projects. Year one funded projects have not received additional funds in the current SFY 2023-24. However, the Senate budget provides for $10 million from the Federal Grants Trust Fund to the Division of Emergency Management for the Cybersecurity Grant Program.
BACK OF THE BILL
Moving Florida Forward (road work program): While both budgets appropriate $906 million for the program, the House budget provides an additional $630 million to accelerate the completion of selected road projects and provide traffic congestion relief in the State of Florida.
Mental Health Forensic Bed Capacity: The House appropriates roughly $81.9 million and the Senate appropriates roughly $77.8 million to sustain forensic bed capacity to support admissions to state mental health facilities and reduce the waitlist for admission.
Emergency Generators for Fiscally Constrained Counties: The House budget provides $30 million to assist fiscally constrained counties with providing air-conditioned sheltering for their general population and special needs population during emergency declarations. To qualify for funding assistance, a fiscally constrained county must demonstrate that it has at least one school that serves as an emergency shelter but does not have a generator capable of powering the full facility including the air-conditioning system. Funds shall be used to purchase, install, and/ or retrofit an emergency generator that can fully power the emergency shelter facility. The amount of funding assistance may not exceed $1,500,000 per qualifying fiscally constrained county.
FRS Conforming Bill and Contribution Rates
The House and Senate amended the employer contribution rates for the Florida Retirement System (FRS) in their respective conforming bills, HB 151 – Florida Retirement System and SB 7024 – Employer Contributions to Fund Retiree Benefits.
The charts below show the revised employer contribution rates for 1) the normal plan costs, 2) the unfunded actuarial liability of the system, and 3) the revised employee contribution rates.
The House retirement package, HB 151, also makes a number of changes to the current Florida Retirement System (FRS).
FRS Cost-of-Living Adjustment: The bill restores the annual 3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for FRS retirees. In 2011, the existing COLA was eliminated for service earned after July 1 of that year. The restored COLA will take effect for FRS pension plan retirees beginning on July 1, 2024. The bill also limits the COLA to the first $150,000 of FRS benefit. This provision has an estimated $690 million cost impact for counties.
- The bill increases the allocations to FRS investment plan accounts for each membership class. The contribution percentages, by class, are as follows:
- Regular Class: 13.00% up from 11.00%
- Special Risk Class: 22.00% up from 19.00%
- Special Risk Admin. Support Class: 14.95% up from 12.95%
- Elected Officers Class (Legislators, Governor, Lt. Governor, Public Defender, State Attorney): 18.38% up from 14.38%
- Elected Officers Class (Judiciary): 22.23% up from 18.23%
- Elected Officers Class (County Officers): 20.34% up from 16.34%
- Senior Management Service Class: 14.67% up from 12.67%
- Authorizes eligible elected officers that have completed a DROP participation period as of June 30, 2023, to remain in elective office and receive his or her accumulated DROP proceeds.
- Allows FRS retirees to receive both compensation from an employer that participates in the FRS and retirement benefits, provided the retiree is not reemployed within the 6 months following the date of retirement.
- Closes the FRS Preservation of Benefits Plan to new members effective July 1, 2026.