The House Pre-K-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee have presented and discussed “the Chair’s Budget” recommendations. Those recommendations have been forwarded to the Appropriations Committee Chair in each chamber for inclusion in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) and implementing and conforming bills that will be considered by each chamber beginning February 5, 2020. The House Pre-K-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chair, Representative Chris Latvala stated that the GAA and related bills will be available electronically to the members and the public on January 31. The Senate announced the same schedule.
The information that was released was very limited. Of course, more information will be available as the process goes forward. At this time these are key pieces of information we do not have. We do not have budget proviso language. Proviso language is contained in the GAA and it describes how each appropriation is to be spent. Some proviso language is adopted almost verbatim from one year to the next, while some language is new, or it is substantially rewritten. Because we don’t have proviso language we will not be able to provide detailed discussions about elements of the pending GAA. Implementing bills change existing statutes for one year to conform the statutes to the GAA. We do not have that detail at this time. Conforming bills make “permanent” changes in statutes to makes statutes align permanently with the adopted budget. We do not have either the implementing or the conforming bills.
The Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) work papers, also called FEFP runs provide detailed information about all of the funding calculations for each district and lab schools. The information that was released from the Senate included an abbreviated three page run that displayed total potential funding, UFTE projected enrollment and average dollars per student for each district. The House released only the one page state level summary of its proposed FEFP work papers. When the total GAA and the related bills are taken up by the respective appropriations committees we often do not see detailed FEFP runs from either chamber. Again, the full appropriations committees are expected to take up the GAA and related bills on February 5.
When the proposed bills are taken up on the floor the full FEFP workpapers are usually released. We do not expect the bills to be taken up on the floor until the week of February 10. Until full work papers are released the reflect the proviso language in each chamber’s GAA and related implementing and conforming bills any information concerning the specific appropriations within the FEFP to any district will be projections.
Chair Latvala announced that his FEFP budget recommendations will be based on the new calculation of the DCD based on the assumptions included in the calculation of a “Comparable Wage Index (CWI).” The Senate Chair, Senator Kelli Stargel indicated that the Senate’s calculations are based on the current statutory District Cost Differential (DCD).
The House Pre-K-!2 Appropriations Subcommittee held a workshop about the studies related to using a Comparative Wage Index (CWI) as the calculator of the DCD. In the material provided for that presentation, the vendor displayed a CWI for Escambia County, which was 0.9640 and one for Volusia County, which was 0.9780. In the 2019-2020 Third Calculation of the FEFP the DCD for Escambia was 0.9755, and the DCD for Volusia was 0.9654. This implies that using a CWI would reduce funding of the Base FEFP and any similar or related calculation by .0115 and increase similar funding calculations for Volusia County by .0126. If the CWI were applied in place of the DCD for Escambia County in the 2019-2020 Third Calculation Escambia would have seen a reduction in its base FEFP calculation of $2,133,564 and Volusia would have experienced an increase in base FEFP funding of $3,660,933. The different impacts of these two approaches on districts will be in play during the conference committee process if the two chambers remain apart on this methodology.
Below is a chart that compares the statewide FEFP proposals of the two chambers. If there is an unusual, new or relevant policy issue or discussion related to a particular FEFP item comments will be made in the Issue column.