Budget Time in the Legislature

You’ve heard the statistics—Florida consistently ranks in the bottom five states nation-wide for educator salary and per-pupil funding.

Class sizes continue to escalate—as do health insurance costs. Meanwhile salaries are stagnant, school buildings are in disrepair, and every year teachers and education staff professionals are simply asked to do more with less.

The evidence of Florida’s underfunding of public education is all around you.

This is why it is vitally important that all members of the Florida Education Association are aware of how the state’s budget is determined and what you can do to fight for your students, your school, and yourself.

While the state’s budgeting process takes place year-round, we’re nearing the part of session when budget talks really heat up.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 19th and 20th, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education will review and discuss the education budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Each chamber of the Florida legislature has an appropriations committee and several subcommittees. The Florida House has two education related subcommittees, one each for PreK-12 and Higher Education. The Senate, meanwhile, has only one education subcommittee.

Each chamber’s subcommittees work is compiled to form the respective budget proposals for the House and the Senate. Next, the appropriations bill is filed and debated in each chamber. At this time the budget is open to amendment from all legislators.

Once the budget has passed each chamber, Joint Budget Conference Committees are formed, and negotiations begin over the differences between the House and Senate budget bills. Any issues that can’t be settled are then taken up by the chairs of the House and Senate appropriations committees, Representative Cummings and Senator Bradley.

If agreement on the budget still cannot be reached, negotiations take place between the Speaker of the House, Jose Oliva, and the Senate President, Bill Galvano. Once a compromise has been reached, the budget agreements are filed as the Conference Committee Report. This must be filed at least 72 hours before the budget is voted on in order to provide the public for time to review the budget.

Once the 72-hour cooling off period has passed, each chamber votes on the final version of the budget. At this time, the budget cannot be amended. The bill must be voted up or down in its entirety without any changes. If either chamber fails to pass the budget, the conference process begins again.

Once both chambers have passed the budget it is sent to the governor’s desk for approval where the governor can either sign the bill in its entirety or exercise his right to use a line-item veto to eliminate specific budget expenditures.