From the Capitol

The 2018 Legislative Session ended at 4:16pm on Sunday, March 11th. Session was extended to allow for the required 72-hour review period of the budget. The budget conference committee did not conclude its work until the previous Thursday.

This session, 3,250 bills were filed and 200 bills passed both chambers. In contrast, 3,132 bills were filed last year and 249 passed. There has been a trend in the last few years for fewer bills to be passed by the Legislature. One caveat regarding why the number of bills filed increased significantly – it was not until 2017 when House members were required to file appropriations requests as bills. Of the total bills filed this year, 1,314  were budget requests.

As of March 26th, Governor Rick Scott has signed 155 bills into law. The appropriations bill was presented to him on March 14th, and he signed it two days later on March 16th, vetoing $64 million of the $88.727 billion budget, which is the largest budget in history.

As a result of the Parkland school shooting, the Session was upended during the last couple of weeks as the leadership searched for ways to respond to the tragic circumstances. Legislators wanted to demonstrate that they were moving forward with solutions, partially a result of the pressure applied by the students and parents of the school. Legislation addressing school safety, mental health and firearms’ restrictions was quickly crafted and the budget was realigned to meet those priorities. A total of $400 million was allocated for school safety and mental health programs.

The distribution for the FY 2018-19 state budget before the Governor’s vetoes is as follows:


Education Enhancement

(funding for newly established programs)

Education 23,129,651,214
Human Services 37,140,846,008
Criminal Justice/Corrections   4,669,736,640
Natural Resources/Environment/

Growth Management/Transportation

General Government   6,281,093,964
Judicial        539,273,587

Some of the highlights include:

  • $171 million in tax cuts, which is the smallest amount in several years.
  • An increase of $101.50 in per pupil spending for K-12 education; although most of the additional funds are earmarked for school safety improvements and programs as a result of the Parkland shooting. Actual unrestricted funding per pupil amounted to $0.47.
  • $4 billion in environmental funding including Florida Forever, Everglades restoration and natural spring protection.
  • $53 million to fight the opioid crisis, and an additional $14.6 million for addiction treatment.
  • $10.1 billion for transportation infrastructure programs.
  • $1.7 billion for disaster assistance, a result of Hurricane Irma.
  • $85 million for the Job Growth Fund and $76 million for VISIT Florida.
  • $3.25 billion for reserves.