TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — As the Florida Legislature’s 2013 regular session was winding down Friday, both house finally passed the state’s $74.5 billion budget. The massive budget was sent to Florida Governor Rick Scott for his signature.
The budget targeted a multitude of areas including raises for state workers, health insurance, and schools. Here are 10 things to know about the state’s budget.
SCHOOLS: It boosts spending for public schools by more than $1 billion. That includes $480 million set aside for teacher pay raises. Lawmakers also agreed to spend $1 million to do a security assessment of schools.
UNIVERSITIES: A $300 million cut to universities was restored. Lawmakers also boosted several financial aid programs.
STATE WORKERS: State workers will also get their first across-the-board pay raise in seven years. Those who earn $40,000 or less will receive a $1,400 raise, while those who currently earn more than that will get a $1,000 raise. Roughly 35 percent of all state workers will be eligible for a $600 performance bonus. The pay raise takes effect on Oct. 1.
MEDICAID: The budget does increase overall spending on Medicaid, the state’s safety net program. It includes increased reimbursements to primary care providers that are funded by the federal government as part of the Affordable Care Act. But the budget does not include any federal aid to expand Medicaid eligibility to roughly 1 million Floridians.
HEALTH INSURANCE: Florida legislators kept intact low-cost health insurance for themselves, Gov. Rick Scott and other top state officials. Scott, a multimillionaire, currently pays less than $400 a year for family coverage. He had recommended raising the cost. But lawmakers also agreed to offer health insurance to part-time state workers in order to avoid a penalty under the Affordable Care Act.
TAXES: Lawmakers did not raise taxes as part of the budget package. They did agree to a three-year elimination of a tax charged on equipment purchased by manufacturers. They also passed a three-day back-to-school sales tax holiday. Shoppers in August will be to purchase clothes, school supplies and even computers tax free during that period.
TUITION: The budget includes a 3 percent tuition hike for both college and university students. Scott is opposed to tuition hikes and could veto them.
ENVIRONMENT: Legislators set aside $70 million for Everglades restoration, $10 million to protect Florida’s springs, $20 million for the state’s land acquisition programs.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm, got a substantial increase in funding. Lawmakers also agreed to set aside money to help cities and counties retain Major League Baseball teams for spring training.
BUDGET TOTAL: The final budget is nearly $74.5 billion, or an increase of more than 6 percent from last year. It covers spending starting July 1 through June 30, 2014.