March 14, 2016
First of Two Parts – Post Sine Die
On Friday March 11, the Florida Legislature adjourned Sine Die to end the 2016 Legislative
Session. They left after passing an $82.3 billion budget which seemed to shortchange every
level of public education. It certainly was a disappointing session after reports of increased
revenues which were generally passed back in tax relief. They also passed a combined train of
education issues in SB 7029 comprised mostly of K-12 policy but the bill also included statutory
authority for performance funding. More specific higher education funding data and performance
funding policy will be included in Update 6B later this week. We need a few days to digest what
passed in the final hours and SB 7029 has yet to be enrolled, which is the final version of a
HB 7043 by Rep. Erik Fresen/CSSB 524 by Senator Don Gaetz Performance funding to state universities in 2015-16 was a total of $400 million with $150 coming from new state funds and $250 million from the base budgets of the institutions. For 2016-17, universities will receive $500 million; with $225 million of that coming from the state and $275 million from universities’ base budgets. Note: Of the $100.9 million of new state general revenue funding in the Education and General (E&G) funds, $100 million is for performance funding.
Proposed performance funding for the Florida College System is $60 million with half coming from the state and the rest from the colleges’ base funding. In 2015-16, the total was $40 million. The Community College Program Funds for 2016-17 increased by only $24.8 million with $20 million allocated for performance.
Performance funding will be a prime focus for UFF in the 2017 Session and beyond.
UFF position on performance funding.
Guns on Campus
HB 4001 by Rep. Greg Steube/SB 68 by Senator Greg Evers
The bill died in the Senate Judiciary Committee for the second year in a row.
Note: On March 9, 2016, UFF President Jennifer Proffitt was honored with an award from one of
our key allies, the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, at the Tavern on the Green in New York City.
Fee Waiver For Graduate Assistants
HB 1311 by Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasalinda/SB 1230 by Senator Maria Sachs
After passing their appropriate higher education committees, both bills died in the Education
Appropriations committees. We applaud the GA’s for their persistence and support of this
legislation. The GA’s will be back!
University Employees' Health Insurance
PCB HHSC 16-01 by the House Health and Human Services Committee/SB 1434 by Senator
The bill died in the Oversight and Accountability Committee. There was no cost increase for state
employee health insurance for 2016-17 but we will see this legislation to modify the state plan and
change the premium structure again in the 2017 Session.
HB 7107 Public Employees Retirement by Representative Caldwell The bill died in the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. This bill changed the FRS default choice.
HB 5005 Florida Retirement System Conforming Bill increases the employer
contribution in the defined benefit for Regular Class by 0.26%. In the defined investment plan,
the employer rate increased by 0.06% to 2.97%.
HB 7019 by Rep. Elizabeth Porter/SB 984 by Senator John Legg HB 7019 passed the Legislature. Important elements of the bill include:
- Requiring public postsecondary institutions to publicly notice any proposal to increase tuition or fees at least 28 days prior to consideration by the board of trustees.
- Requiring the SBE and the BOG to annually identify strategies and initiatives to promote college affordability (including the impact of tuition and fees paid by graduate assistants employed by the university, financial aid policies, and textbook costs) and submit an annual report to the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
- Requiring public postsecondary institution to report, by semester, the cost variance among sections and length of time textbooks and other materials are in use for all general education courses. This provision expires July 1, 2018. UFF has concern as this report goes to department chairs.
- Requiring posting of textbooks and instructional materials at least 45-days before the first day of class, currently 30 days, on the college or university website.
- Requiring each postsecondary institution to conduct cost benefit analyses that consider the
following guiding principles:
- Purchasing digital textbooks in bulk;
- Expanding the use of open-access textbooks and instructional materials;
- Providing rental options for textbooks and instructional materials;
- Increasing the availability and use of affordable digital textbooks and learning objects;
- Developing mechanisms to assist in buying, renting, selling, and sharing textbooks and instructional materials;
- Examining the length of time textbooks and instructional materials remain in use.
UFF position paper on textboook affordability.