News from Senator Kathleen Passidomo

Passidomo – Legislative Update, Sine Die

Senate President Bill Galvano strikes the gavel to adjourn the Senate “sine die.”

Governor Ron DeSantis and Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez joined Senate President Bill Galvano and Speaker of the House Jose Oliva for a press conference following the Legislature adjourning “sine die.”

House Sergeant-at-Arms Russell Hosford and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Tim Hay performing the ceremonial “sine die” drop of the hanky.

 

The 2019 Legislative Session concluded Saturday, May 4th, with the traditional “Sine Die” ceremonies after the final passage of the budget.

At the end of each legislative session, each chamber adjourns sine die (latin for “without day”), which means “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.”

In the Florida Legislature, there is an adjournment ceremony, where the respective sergeant-at-arms from both the Senate and the House step outside their chambers holding up a handkerchief. When they meet in between the chambers, they both drop the handkerchiefs, signifying the end of the legislative session.

Each year, the Legislature is required by the Florida Constitution to develop and pass a balanced state budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  This year’s budget process came to a close this past week when the budget passed 38-0 in the Florida Senate.  The Legislature adjourned, and the budget now heads to Governor DeSantis for his review and signature.

This year’s budget prioritizes Florida’s PreK-12 education system, while still giving $121 million to Florida’s citizens in tax relief, investing $1.85 billion for Hurricane Michael relief, and devoting more than $680 million to water quality and protection projects.

Environment

We dedicated more than $6.1 billion to the protection and restoration of our environment in Florida. The funding supports a wide range of programs, including:

·         $23 million to the Department of Citrus, with more than $16 million devoted to addressing Citrus Health and Crop Decline

·         $367.2 million for Everglades projects

·         $149.1 million for Water Quality improvement, including Septic-to-Sewer/Wastewater Treatment

·         $10.8 million for the Blue Green Algae Task Force

·         $4.2 million for Red Tide Research

·         $10 million for Innovative Technology Grants for Harmful Algal Blooms

·         $50 million for Beach Management Funding Assistance

Education

There is more than $34.7 billion in total funding for education in Florida, which includes an increase in funding for Florida’s PreK-12 public education system of $783 million, or the equivalent of an additional $242 per student.  Within this funding increase is $363.9 million in flexible spending, which can be used for teacher pay raises, and $285 million for merit-based bonuses.

I’m particularly proud of the additional $5.7 million that has been devoted to the Mental Health Assistance Allocation, which brings the total Mental Health allocation for 2019-2020 to $75 million.

Additional highlights in the Education budget are:

·         Safe Schools Allocation of $180 million (an $18 million increase from last year’s budget)

·         $54.2 million additional funds for school districts that receive less than the statewide average total funds per student

·         Family Empowerment Scholarships, a new program for up to 18,000 students

·         $14.2 million to provide financial stability to Hurricane Michael-affected school districts

·         No tuition increases in both the Florida College System and State University System

·         $595.1 million Bright Futures funding

·         $9 million in Public Education Capital Outlay Funding for FGCU’s Integrated Watershed and Coastal Studies

·         $500,000 for FGCU’s Academic and Career Attainment Initiative

District Projects

Of the budget projects I sponsored this year, Collier, Hendry, and Lee County received about $8.6 million in funding in this year’s budget. These projects include:

·         $1.2 million for Naples Bay Red Tide/Septic Tank Mitigation

·         $381,000 for City of Clewiston Storm Spill Prevention

·         $500,000 for the Marco Island South Barfield Drive Drainage Project

·         $1 million to connect Airglades Airport to the City of Clewiston Wastewater Treatment Plant

·         $2 million for the City of Clewiston C-21 Bridge Canal Crossing

·         $110,000 for City of LaBelle Emergency Generators

·         $312,500 for Plantation Island Hurricane Irma Waterway Recovery

·         $87,000 for Lehigh Acres Caloosahatchee River & Estuary Storage & Treatment

·         $100,000 for Caloosahatchee River Aqua Vegetation

·         $500,000 for Marco Island-Barrier Island Emergency Fire Services

·          $75,000 for Jewish Family and Community Services of SWFL – Dementia Respite & Support

·         $650,000 for Auditory Oral Intervention for Children with Hearing Loss

·         $279,000 for the David Lawrence Center Wraparound Collier Program

·         $85,000 for Lighthouse for the Blind – Collier County

·         $250,000 for Florida Network: Stop Now and Plan for Children

·         $500,000 for Destination Graduation

·         $250,000 for Learning for Life (Boy Scouts Program)

In addition to finalizing and debating the budget, the Florida Senate heard and voted on over 150 bills, and more than 40 executive appointments.