Governor Ron DeSantis Signs the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget

Transmittal Letter 06.29.2020 Budget

The Governor signed the budget this afternoon.  Our priorities for the 2020 legislative session are noted below:

$3M Staffing Grant – approved

$3,181,500 Challenge Grant – approved

$115M SAIL – Approved

$225M SHIP – VETOED / “held back “for General Revenue shortfall – Governor points to Cares Act funding to fill this “hold back” for general revenue shortfall.

In total, the Governor vetoed $1.1 billion

Half vetoed from general revenue, the other half trust fund.  CARES Act funding should offset the veto/shortfall for the Housing Trust Fund.  CARES Act funding was appropriated for “SHIP-like” activities.  $250 million will be provided by Florida Housing Finance to the State’s Counties within the next two weeks and must be spent by December 31, 2020.  CoCs are encouraged to partner with local government to help spend these funds within the required timeframe.

The full press release is posted here:

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the state budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021. The budget totals $92.2 billion, provides over $350 million in tax relief and includes more than $1 billion in vetoed spending.

“Despite the present challenges Florida faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget ensures the state’s priorities are protected and funded,” said Governor DeSantis. “Our current economic landscape is vastly different since the Legislature passed this budget in March. As Governor, I must remain a mindful steward of taxpayer dollars. This budget reflects a steadfast commitment to Floridians by safeguarding important investments in key areas including education, the environment, infrastructure, public safety and more. As we move forward with our Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery, we will overcome the adversities before us and emerge stronger than before.”

Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget are provided below:

K-12 Education

Governor DeSantis vowed to make 2020 the “Year of the Teacher” by making historic investments in our K-12 education system. The budget includes $500 million to raise the minimum K-12 teacher salary into the Top 5 nationwide and increase salaries for veteran teachers and other eligible instructional personnel. The budget also includes record per student funding of $7,793, an increase of current year spending by $137 per student.

Higher Education

To continue building on the success of Florida’s higher education system, the budget includes historic state operating funding for the Florida College System and State University System at $1.3 billion and $2.7 billion respectively. It does not include any tuition increases. The budget also provides an increase of $18.9 million for Florida’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Environment

The budget continues Governor DeSantis’ record investments in Florida’s environment and water quality, providing more than $625 million for Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources.

Included in this investment is more than $322 million for Everglades restoration projects, $50 million for springs restoration, $160 million for targeted water quality improvements, $40 million for alternative water supply, and $25 million to combat harmful algal blooms and red tide. With this budget, Governor DeSantis is more than halfway to his goal of securing $2.5 billion for Florida’s environment.

Additionally, the budget includes $100 million for Florida Forever, the state’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program to ensure the conservation and preservation of our natural resources for future generations.

Transportation and Infrastructure

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the state has not lost its focus on critical transportation infrastructure and hurricane recovery needs. The budget provides $9.2 billion for the State Transportation Work Program, including $2.5 billion for highway construction, $400.5 million for aviation improvements, $885.5 million for rail/transit projects and $236.4 million for safety initiatives.

Additionally, the budget includes $1.3 billion in in federal and state funding for communities to respond to, recover from, and mitigate against major disasters or emergencies. Further, the budget provides $10 million for state-level election oversight activities, with a focus on cybersecurity enhancements to Florida’s election system.

Health and Human Services

The health and well-being of all Floridians is paramount. The budget invests $117.6 million in funding for children and families who receive services through Florida’s child welfare system, including $53 million for major reforms to our child welfare system to enhance accountability and the quality of care a child receives. The budget also includes $8.7 million in funding to support the Office of Public and Professional Guardianship to ensure the legal rights of Florida’s elderly population are protected.

The budget includes $138.1 million in total funding to fight the opioid epidemic in Florida, investing $81.8 million from the State Opioid Response Grant to address the opioid crisis by providing evidence-based prevention, medication-assisted treatment and recovery.

Public Safety

The budget continues to make necessary investments in public safety. It includes $2.3 million to implement the first Statewide Behavioral Threat Assessment strategy in the country and more than $8.1 million to expand and enhance Florida’s crime databases.

The budget includes $6 million to make Florida’s correctional facilities safer, including $3 million for security equipment. It also provides important funding for pay increases for correctional officers and $17.3 million for a pilot project that transitions these officers from a 12-hour shift to an 8.5-hour shift.

Reserves

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida continues to maintain strong reserves. Reserve amounts included in the budget are:

  • $2.3 billion in unallocated General Revenue
    • Includes projected reversions of $781.6 million. This does not include adjustments for COVID-19 revenue losses.
  • $1.7 billion in the Budget Stabilization Fund
  • $1.5 billion in unallocated Trust Funds
  • $0.8 billion in Tobacco reserves
  • $6.3 billion in Total Reserves

The transmittal letter is attached. For details on the budget, click HERE.

To view the veto list, click HERE.

 

House Bill 163 – Homelessness Signed by the Governor

The Governor signed House Bill 163 by Representative Thad Altman on June 18, 2020.

HB 163 revises the state’s approach to preventing and ending homelessness by aligning state requirements with requirements of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding grants to Continuum of Care (CoC) lead agencies. As a result, the State Office on Homelessness (State Office) will be able to award grant money more expeditiously and efficiently.

The bill requires each CoC lead agency to create a continuum of care plan which implements an effective and efficient housing crisis response system to prevent and end homelessness in the CoC catchment area. The bill also requires the State Office to align its catchment areas for CoC lead agencies with HUD’s catchment areas. The bill adds representatives from the Florida Housing Coalition and the Department of Elder Affairs to the Council on Homelessness, which develops recommendations on how to reduce homelessness statewide and advises the State Office.

HB 163 also increases the amount of Challenge Grant funds each CoC lead agency may receive annually from $500,000 to $750,000, and it reduces the amount of matching funds or in-kind support required for a Challenge Grant recipient from 100 percent to 25 percent. The bill also increases the maximum percentage of grant funds that a CoC lead agency may spend on its administrative costs from 8 percent to 10 percent and changes the preference for funding to be for COC lead agencies that have a demonstrated ability to move households out of homelessness.

The bill amends sections of law outlining two approaches to housing services, Rapid ReHousing and Housing First. It requires that individuals and families being considered for Rapid ReHousing assistance be assessed and prioritized through the continuum of care’s coordinated entry system. The bill also removes the program element indicating a benefit for an individual to have a background check and complete rehabilitation for any addiction to substances when participating in Housing First services.

The bill was approved by the Governor on June 19, 2020 and will become effective on July 1, 2020.

 

Update on State Budget

The Governor has yet to be presented with the state budget or your HB 163 priority legislation (like the overwhelming majority of bills) by the legislature. The reason for the delay is due in large part to COVID-19 – the Governor has obviously been covered up with the states response to the virus and the legislature is giving him time before presenting him with the bills. Once the Governor is presented with the budget or substantive legislation, he has 15-days for his veto deliberation period. The Governor has line item veto authority for the budget bill and he can veto, sign into law, or take no action on your HB 163, and the bill will become law upon its effective date. As soon as the Governor is presented with either bill, we will notify coalition members right away.

Regarding the budget impact to the state from COVID: the impact is still unknown. There is expected to be a significant impact to Florida due in large part to the sales tax revenue lost for a state that is very depend on tourism. At this time, the Legislature does not anticipate convening to undo the budget recently passed (not yet signed by the Governor) due to the “rainy day funds” (reserves) where the state has approximately $4 billion and the funds from the Federal Cares Act ($8.2 billion). Things can change, however, and we will be watchful as the General Revenue Collection Reports come in.

On April 25, the General Revenue Collection Report for March will be released. Sales Tax collections for the March report (April 25) only reflect activity that occurred in February, only one week of which was affected by Coronavirus. It won’t be until May 25, when the General Revenue Collection Report for April with Sales Tax Activity from March is released until we start seeing the full impact for an entire month, all of which was affected at an increasing extent as the month progressed.

Below I am providing everyone with the links to the Senate President’s Fiscal Update memos from April 2nd and 16th. I’m also copying and pasting my emails from 4/17 and 4/21 re: CARES Act Funding and budget amendments.

 

Senate President Fiscal Update Emails:

Senate President April 16th Fiscal Update: https://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/Offices/2018-2020/President/Documents/4_16_20_MEMO_Fiscal_Updates_Related_to_COVID_19.pdf

Senate President April 2nd Fiscal Update: https://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/Offices/2018-2020/President/Documents/4_2_20_MEMO_Fiscal_Update.pdf

 

Budget Update Emails:

From: Bryan Cherry <Bryan@PinPointResults.com>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 12:10 PM
Subject: Budget Update

All – To update our email from last Thursday, the State of Florida has now received $4.1 billion (of the $8.2 billion available to the state) from the Federal CARES Act late Friday afternoon 4/16. The State is finalizing how the first 50% of funds from the CARES Act is distributed. As soon as we have more updates, we will be sure to pass the information along to everyone, but very good news the State has now received at least some of the CARES Act funding.


FCEH Members,

We want to update everyone on a few items relating to the Federal CARES Act funding that will be available for your programs and budget amendments for current FY ESG/Challenge contracts:

Federal CARES Act:

Where is the Funding?

As of today (4/16) the State of Florida has yet to receive much of their funding from the Federal CARES Act. There have been delays in distributing the funding to the states because federal agencies had to first determine what the guidelines are for appropriations (state population, impact from COVID-19 i.e. sales tax revenues lost etc.). We suspect the states will begin to receive their respective allocations as soon as next week. According to Florida Senate President’s 4/2 Memo to Senators, Florida anticipates receiving $12 billion in federal grants from the CARES Act.

What is the State of Florida’s Approval Process for Distribution?

In an effort to expedite the distribution of funds to providers, the Federal CARES Act gives Governor’s the authority to follow own state processes for distribution of funds. Further, due to Governor DeSantis’ Emergency Declaration for the State in response to COVID-19, we believe he has broad budget authority to approve funding from the CARES Act. This means, rather than requiring that the legislature convene in Tallahassee to appropriate the funding from the CARES Act, state agencies may submit budget amendments to the Governor requesting for additional budget authority for the Federal grants. However, the Governor may convene the legislature if he feels he does not have the authority to do so, or the legislature may decide to convene to appropriate the funds. In the Senate President’s Memo on 4/2, the President mentioned the legislature convening to appropriate the funds as a possibility. We should know very shortly what Florida’s process will be, however; the Governor has already been approving non-CARES Act Federal funding through his Emergency Declaration, and we would not be surprised to see the same process used for the CARES Act funding.

What is the Budget Allocation Method used by DCF for the Distribution of Funds and when will Programs know Their Allocation?

The State Office on Homelessness has summarized your suggestions to provide three options to leadership for the allocation method of the CARES Act funding. Your recommendations are currently under review by DCF leadership. Once an allocation method has been approved by DCF, each of your programs will be notified with exact amounts by DCF. The three methods FCEH submitted to DCF for consideration are as follows:

  1. Using the original allocation method for the 2019-2020 ESG Grant
  2. Using the original allocation method for the 2019-2020 ESG Grant and adding the two communities that did not originally get funded.
  3. Using the original allocation method for half of the funding and using a calculation to take into account other measures (ie: poverty and unemployment and spending rates) for the remaining funds.

When should Providers Expect to Receive Funds?

Once the Governor approves the budget amendments, or the legislature appropriates the funding, the funding will be made available to your programs. Unfortunately, we can not say exactly when that date will be. As described above, the state first must receive the funding, and then agencies must submit the budget amendments requesting additional budget authority to the Governor and then the Governor has to review and approve, or the legislature must convene and appropriate the funds. We do know, Federal and State agencies are moving as quickly as they can to position themselves to distribute the funding as soon as possible.

Current FY Challenge / ESG Budget Amendments:

 FCEH members expressed interest in utilizing unspent current FY ESG and Challenge funding in their contracts in response to COVID-19. FCEH and your PPR Consultants worked with DCF and were successful in obtaining approval from the Governor to submit budget revisions to shift funds from unused activities (i.e. Rapid Re-housing) to other activities (i.e. Emergency Shelter). Please submit your budget revision requests to your contract manager for review and approval if you have not done so already. On Friday 4/10, DCF sent the following email to CoCs:

“We have received approval to submit budget revisions to shift funds from unused activities (i.e. Rapid Re-housing) to other activities (i.e. Emergency Shelter).  Financial penalties for unmet deliverables as a result of shifts that are necessary for current program functions will be waived.  As a reminder we are unable to shift funds between grants, if there are no funds in a grant (i.e. ESG) we cannot complete a budget revision to shift from another grant (i.e. Challenge).  Please submit budget revision requests to your contract manager for review and approval.” 

On behalf of our PinPoint Results Team, THANK YOU all for everything you’re doing to help fight the spread of COVID-19 among our states most vulnerable population. We understand your programs are extremely busy, and it is critical to provide you all with certainties during these unprecedented and uncertain times. Please know, our PinPoint Results Team, as well as FCEH Leadership is here to assist Coalition Members. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or the FCEH leadership should you have any questions, at any time.

What you do and the leadership that your Programs exhibit each and every day is the critical role in Florida’s homelessness system and I am proud and privileged to work on your behalf and represent FCEH.

 

Cheers,

 

Bryan R. Cherry

PinPoint Results, LLC

150 S. Monroe St., Suite 303

Tallahassee, FL 32301

(850) 544-5673

 

 

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