Issues of Interest

For the first time in five years, the Legislature could be looking at a $436 million budget surplus when it begins its budget deliberations next spring, according to the most recent estimates by state economists. This surplus could evaporate, however, should the state lose a lawsuit regarding the state pension system currently before the Florida Supreme Court. A $1.1 billion budget hole would be created for the 2013-2012 fiscal year if the state loses this appeal. Additionally, Florida could suffer $8 billion in economic losses if the U.S Congress does not reach a deal on the extension or modification of various federal taxes. Known as the fiscal cliff, all eyes will be on Washington, D.C. through the end of the year as negotiations continue.

 

Both the Senate and House established select legislative committees to discuss the implementation of the national Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (PPACA). Its purpose is to review costs, consider alternatives, provide consumer protections and offer options for a competitive heath insurance market. The State missed the November 14th deadline, and will miss the December 14th extension by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to submit its plan for the required health insurance exchange.

A Leon County Circuit Court judge blocked the state’s plans to privatize health care services in three of Florida’s four prison regions. The judge ruled the Legislative Budget Commission could not privatize prison health care services; rather it required approval of the Legislature. The State plans to appeal the decision.

 

After the unexpected resignation of former Department of Education Commissioner Gerald Robinson after only a year on the job, the Florida Board of Education conducted a national search to fill this post. The Board unanimously selected former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, who is widely regarded in education reform circles and is an ally of former Governor Jeb Bush.

 

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has developed four new license tag designs to replace the current, long standing tag. The public can view the tags and place a vote at: www.Vote4FloridaTag.com.  Once approved by the Florida Cabinet, the new license plates will be phased in over two years.

 

Tourism is strong and on pace for another record year. Nearly 22 million people visited Florida during the third quarter this year, an increase of 3.5 percent over the same time period in 2011. Of those, almost 19 million were from the United States.

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