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Session is a Grand Slam

May 13, 2002
Representative Tom Feeney,  Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives

House Speaker Tom Feeney banged his gavel, signaling the end of a grand slam special session.  The legislature was convened into special session between August 29th and May 13th in order to rewrite Florida's school code, create a responsible 2002-2003 budget, complete the reorganization of Florida's cabinet as directed by voters, and provide an economic stimulus package to promote job growth and opportunities.

 "Floridians can declare victory today.  Seamless education for schoolchildren, $1.1 billion increase in education funding, and $6 billion in tax relief for Florida's families and business over the last four years is great news for all Floridians.  This session provides for economic growth and opportunities for Floridians in the new millennium" said House Speaker Tom Feeney. 

During this grand slam special session, the Florida Legislature accomplished the following:

The School Code Rewrite

This was a tremendous achievement with massive input from education leaders across the state.  This is the first comprehensive education code adopted in over 60 years in Florida and our school children will greatly benefit from the newly created seamless education.  The nearly 1800-page bill represents nine months of diligent efforts by House staff that worked with over 200 people from the education community to write the code.  Putting into action the nation's first K-20 education system, the new School Code does the following:

  • Updates the decades old school code, bringing it in line with Florida's new K-20 system;
  • Eliminates duplicative and over burdensome bureaucracies, giving more flexibility to local school districts and universities
  • Reauthorizes important programs including Bright Futures, dual enrollment, early admissions, Florida Prepaid College Programs, Florida Residents Access Grants;
  • Strengthens laws to end the abuse of social promotion;
  • Grants the State Board of Education authority to enforce the law;
  • Specifies student and parent rights.

The 2002-2003 General Appropriations Bill totaled $50.4 billion. 

Education

  • $15.8 billion, or 31.4%, went to funding for Education
  • This is an increase of $1.1 billion for K-12 education, the largest dollar increase ever
  • This is a 6% increase in K-12 funds per student, bringing the new statewide average to $5,206.85 per student
  • Provides an overall increase of $193.1 million for our state universities
  • $30 million for High Technology Centers for Excellence
  • $90 million increase in funding for Community College
  • $28.9 million increase for the Bright Futures Program
  • $9 million increase for the FRAG program

Health and Human Services

  • $18.4 billion, or 36.5%, went to funding for Health and Human Services
  • $1.3 billion provides funding for Medicaid Workload and Price Level
  • $254.7 million for Medically Needy for Adults
  • $135.3 million for KidCare Workload
  • $113.5 million for Child Welfare Issues
  • $136.7 million for Services to the Developmentally Disabled
  • $27.6 million for Mental Health Programs
  • $62.5 million for Services to the Elderly

Transportation and Economic Development

  • $8 Billion, or 15.8%, went to funding for Transportation and Economic Development
  • $129.9 million for economic development programs
  • $91.1 million was provided for highway, rail, aviation, transit and port improvements
  • $34 million was provided for the Transportation Disadvantaged Commission
  • $8.9 million for equipment and overtime to enhance the Florida Highway Patrol
  • $2.2 million and 28 law enforcement officer position for Florida Turnpike Enterprise
  • $683.3 million for the School Readiness Program
  • $63.2 million was provided to fully fund Affordable Housing Programs

General Government

  • $4.6 Billion, or 9.1%, went to funding for General Government

  • $300 million bond sale for Florida Forever, 3rd year

  • $150 million for Save Our Everglades land acquisition

  • $118.1 million for Surface Water Restoration, Wastewater System Improvements, Storm Water and Drinking Water Projects

  • $55.4 million for Citrus Canker Eradication and Compensation Efforts

Criminal Justice

  • $3.6 Billion, or 7.1%, went to funding for Criminal Justice

  • $4.7 million for domestic security

  • $1.7 million for 18 new circuit judges and support staff

  • $2.0 million to cover increased case related costs associated with sexual predator civil commitments under the Jimmy Ryce Act

Cabinet Reorganization

The Cabinet Reorganization bill passed by the Florida Legislature implements the 1998 constitutional amendment that abolished the Cabinet offices of State Comptroller and Treasurer and created the new Cabinet office of Chief Financial Officer.  As passed unanimously by the House and Senate, the bill makes the Chief Financial Officer a full-time state government fiscal watchdog, who will also take over many duties currently held by the Treasurer/Insurance Commissioner, including insurance consumer issues, insurance fraud, insurance agent regulation, and the State Fire Marshal's office. The bill places the regulation of insurance companies, banks, and other financial services under the Governor and Cabinet, who would appoint professionals to carry out day-to-day regulatory functions. The bill is faithful to the policy that regulation of the insurance and financial services industries should be protected from political influence.

Economic Stimulus Package

The economic stimulus package passed by the Florida Legislature brings our state in line with the federal tax code, providing tax relief of $428 million by 2005.  According to the Heritage Foundation, Florida's job creation due to economic stimulus in 2002 would be 2,500 new jobs, in 2003 would be 3500 new jobs and in 2004 would be 2500 new jobs. This would bring the total dollar amount of tax relief to Florida's families and business to $6 Billion during the last four years.