2013-2014 Budget

Florida’s economy is slowly regaining strength as state economists project the state’s tax collections will grow about an average of 5 percent, or as much as $3.5 billion, for the next fiscal year.  Florida’s unemployment rate for February, 2013 is at its lowest level in four years, 7.7%, and recently fell below the national average for the first time in five years.

This past week the Senate and House released their proposed budgets for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.  Both budgets are remarkably similar with the Senate proposing $74.3 billion in spending while the House recommends $74.4 billion in spending.  Both chambers have different spending priorities, however.

The House sets aside money for a $1,400 pay raise for all state workers, regardless of their salary, but the Senate version includes a 3% across the board raise for the same employees.  The House prefers to have at least a portion of teacher salaries tied to performance measures, while the Senate generally agrees with Governor Scott’s proposal of raises for all teachers.

While neither budget funds the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, each increases health care spending.  The Senate proposes $30.8 billion and the House $31.3 billion, which represents the largest proportion of the budget.

Governor Scott’s economic incentive proposals were sharply curtailed by both chambers.  The Governor’s $278 million request was reduced to $41.57 million in the Senate version, and the House proposes $73 million in incentives.

The funding of reserves is another difference.  The Senate would like to set aside $2.9 billion for the rainy day fund, while the House is more optimistic and proposes only $1.2 billion.

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