December 13, 2001
Source: The Executive Office of the Governor
Republican leadership takes responsible action during Special Session
Governor Jeb Bush signed into law a responsible, balanced budget, which addresses the economic downturn Florida has faced as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"Through the hard work of the Legislature, our state now has a balanced budget that will allow us to meet the priority needs of Floridians, while preserving the state’s economic future," Governor Bush said. "The new budget was difficult to craft, but represents a statesmanlike effort by all. We maximized management efficiencies in lieu of eliminating critical programs."
The Governor, House and Senate worked cooperatively to reach an agreement on the amount of reductions needed to be made to this budget, ultimately reducing budget growth by $1.3 billion. The new budget includes $722 million in spending reduction efficiencies, $104 million in cash from working capital, $383 million in trust fund reserves, and $128 million from the delay of the current year phase out of the intangibles tax. Through a series of guiding principles, Governor Bush proposed meeting the shortfall with a balanced, responsible approach, relying fairly equally on recurring spending reductions and reserves. That goal has been accomplished.
The Governor highlighted several priority areas in the state budget, including:
- The revised budget prioritizes direct classroom instruction for Florida’s children and preserves a per-student increase from the previous year. Last year’s budget provided $5,296 per student for 2,388,756 students. This year’s budget provides $5,327 per student for 2,455,065 students. This is still a per-student spending increase from last year, and funds 66,309 additional students.
- Governor Bush also proposed giving spending flexibility to universities, community colleges and school districts, in order to protect direct classroom instruction. The Legislature met this goal as well through the passage of HB 13-C.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
- Governor Bush proposed prioritizing those programs serving Florida’s most frail and vulnerable citizens. The new budget provides for a $1.4 billion increase in total health and human services funding from last year.
- Governor Bush insisted that offenders continue to serve 85 percent of their sentences. The Legislature met this challenge.
- The budget reflects a deferral of the third step in eliminating the intangibles tax, resulting in an additional $128 million to help meet the state’s needs.
- After special session, total reserves now stand at $2.8 billion, up from $1.3 billion just three years ago. This 115 percent increase means that Florida still has the resources to meet future challenges. Compared to a new cumulative total budget increase of 20.3 percent over three years, it is clear that expanding and preserving Florida’s budget reserves remains a top priority for the Bush/Brogan administration, and a significant achievement.
In addition, to preserve the state’s highest priority programs and services, Governor Bush vetoed a series of line items in the budget including:
- Specific Appropriations 244 and 245-which would have eliminated next year 409 correctional probation positions within the Department of Corrections, representing an 18 percent decrease of the probation workforce.
"The men and women of who serve as correctional probation officers are devoted and courageous people, who supervise 150,000 criminals in our communities," said Governor Bush. "They have directly contributed to the historic declines in our state’s crime rates in the past two years, and for that reason I am vetoing this line item."
- Specific Appropriation 3-which would have reduced funding to mentoring programs including Take Stock in Children by $1.3 million and the Boys and Girls Clubs by $500,000.
"Mentoring programs in Florida provide an invaluable service to our at-risk students through one-on-one tutoring in schools. It has always been my commitment to protect our most vulnerable children as well as direct classroom instruction to our students."