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Florida Senate passes balanced budget focused on education, public safety, $3.3 billion reserves

The Florida Senate today passed House Bill 5001, the 2018-19 General Appropriations Act, a balanced state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget provides unprecedented K-12 per student funding, makes key investments in Florida Forever Programs, and prioritizes funding for vulnerable residents of Florida’s nursing homes, while setting aside $3.3 billion in total reserves.

“This balanced budget includes unprecedented K-12 per student funding, targeted pay raises for state law enforcement, state firefighters, and Department of Juvenile Justice probation and detention officers, and $100 million for Florida Forever, while setting aside $3.3 billion in reserves,” said Florida Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart).

The budget also accounts for $400 million in critical investments in public and school safety signed into law as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act (Senate Bill 7026), $53.5 million to fund treatment and prevention of opioid abuse (House Bill 21), and approximately $124 million to fund need-based and merit-based student financial aid, including the permanent expansion of the Bright Futures Academic and Medallion Scholarships, signed into law as part of the 2018

“There is nothing more important than our children’s safety, and this budget demonstrates our commitment to keeping our children safe by accounting for the $400 million investment in school safety and community mental health signed into law on Friday by Governor Scott,” said Senator Bradley (R-Fleming Island), Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. “Our budget also includes record funding for K-12 and higher education, and accounts for the permanent expansion of Bright Futures Academic and Medallion Scholarships.”

“We make major new investments in drug and veterans courts, as well as prevention programs like PACE and AMIKids, and included pay increases for public defenders and prosecutors,” continued Chair Bradley. “The Senate will always demonstrate fidelity to the Constitution. As such, the 2018-19 budget fully and faithfully implements the will of the voters who passed the Water and Land Conservation Amendment, including record funding for the St. John’s River and Keystone Heights Lakes Region.”

“Additionally, this session the Senate fought for the more than 80,000 of our fellow citizens who reside in nursing homes. I'm proud that our budget will include a significant increase in funding for the women and men who shaped our communities, including an increase in the personal needs allowance from $105 to$130 per month,” continued President Negron. “When I chaired Appropriations, under the leadership of President Don Gaetz, the Senate led the effort to increase the personal needs allowance from $35 to $105, and we continued that effort again this year. Our elders deserve to keep enough of the social security benefits they earned to maintain their dignity and have the ability to pay for a haircut, a new outfit, or a present for a grandchild. This appropriation has no lobbyist, no special interest, no campaign to advocate for it. This is for our mothers and fathers, grandparents, veterans, and persons with disabilities who are looking to us for basic decency.”