Florida lawmakers will use the last three weeks of the 2018 session to decide the fate of a number of major education bills that address everything from school bullying to teachers to university tuition.
Shortly before a mass shooting at a Broward County high school, a Senate committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that could dedicate more funding to Florida schools for mental health services.
The House and Senate on Wednesday advanced separate versions of an $87 billion-plus state budget, with the two chambers taking different courses on health-care spending and a plan to link education policy to the budget process.
After initial debate on the bills, the Senate is poised to pass its $87.3 billion bill (SB 2500) on Thursday, and the House is expected to pass its $87.2 billion spending plan (HB 5001). After the floor votes, the chambers will be able to begin negotiating the 2018-2019 budget, facing a March 9 end-of-session deadline.
After considering more than 100 proposals in committees, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission is ready to move into its next phase, starting with a public hearing Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale.
In a replay of last year, the House on Wednesday attached a major education policy bill to the state budget, spurring a debate on controversial issues such as a voucher-like program for students who are bullied and an effort to weaken teachers’ unions.
A proposal that would narrow the right to privacy in the state Constitution was approved Thursday by a panel of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.
Florida House leaders unveiled a proposed higher-education budget Tuesday that includes cuts designed to spur state universities and colleges to spend some of their reserve funds.
The Constitution Revision Commission is considering a measure that could settle future disputes over the appointment of Florida Supreme Court justices, but the proposal will do nothing to resolve a constitutional crisis looming early next year.
At question is whether Gov. Rick Scott or his successor, the winner of the 2018 governor’s race, will pick the replacements for three justices --- Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince --- whose terms end as Scott’s tenure comes to a close in early January 2019.
(This is the fourth in a series of stories previewing issues for the 2018 legislative session.)
For Florida residents, attending a state university or college is a bargain.
This academic year, in-state students at Florida's 12 universities will pay an average of $6,091 in tuition and fees for 30 credit hours, which is nearly 40 percent below the national average of $9,970 for four-year public schools, according to the College Board.
Florida could be on the verge of losing a key financial tool that helped the state reduce the amount of money it owes by $1.4 billion last fiscal year.
Through June 30, Florida had cut the debt it accumulated to build schools, roads and other infrastructure over the last seven years by some $5.5 billion, Ben Watkins, director of state Division of Bond Finance, told Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet on Wednesday.