House, Senate approve state budget proposals

by | Mar 29, 2023

  • The House and Senate budget committees have advanced proposed record spending plans for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, with differences to be settled in the coming weeks.
  • Primarily, the proposed budgets differ on the funding for the expansion of Florida’s school-voucher programs. The Senate proposed funding the program at $2.2 billion, while the House projected the cost to be $209.6 million.
  • Disparities between the two chambers will be settled in the coming weeks.

The House and Senate budget committees advanced proposed record spending plans on Tuesday for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, with key differences set to be settled in the coming weeks.

Among the numerous differences, the House has proposed spending $107.9 million to expand the size of the Florida State Guard, while introducing a proposal that would cut state funding from the tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida. The Senate wants to spend $80 million on Visit Florida, up $30 million from the current year and doesn’t propose increasing state guard funding.

“That’s something that our members wanted to wait to discuss in conference (budget negotiations between the House and Senate), and I think it will be worked out in conference,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Doug Broxson said when asked about funding for the state guard and Visit Florida after his committee meeting Tuesday.

The Senate proposal totals $113.7 billion, with the Appropriations Committee approving 200 amendments Tuesday that shifted money within the plan. Among other things, the Senate is proposing a 4.75 percent increase in funds per public-school student, a 3 percent across-the-board pay increase for state employees, and $350 million in “recovery” grants that would go to areas slammed by Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole.

With a 6 percent pay increase proposed for state employees, the House package stands at $113 billion, which House Appropriations Chairman Tom Leek called a “conservative spending plan.” The House proposal includes $12.4 billion in reserves, at least in part to serve as a hedge against future natural disasters and an economic downturn.

In the education part of the budget, the House and Senate are aligned in wanting to spend roughly $26.6 billion for the Florida Education Finance Program, the main funding formula for public schools. The total would represent a $2.1 billion increase over the current year.

The House and Senate differ in funding for a massive expansion of Florida’s school-voucher programs (HB 1), which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law on Monday.

The Senate proposal would fund the voucher system at $2.2 billion, covering existing voucher students and new voucher recipients. Senate Education Appropriations Chairman Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, said the voucher funding would represent an $802 million increase over the current year.

Meanwhile, the House has projected that the voucher plan would cost about $209.6 million. House PreK-12 Appropriations Chairwoman Josie Tomkow, R-Polk City, indicated the chambers are taking different approaches in the calculations.

Without knowing how many students will participate, both chambers set aside reserves to cover any potential voucher-system shortfall. The Senate set aside $350 million, while the House put aside $109.7 million.

The House and Senate are expected to vote on their proposed spending plans and budget-related bills next week. Both would exceed the $109.9 billion budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.


  1. Deborah Coffey

    The budgets are a bit low and just how much money will be taken out of the public schools. It’s been estimated to be $4 BILLION.

  2. dmmorrison

    Tell me again why we’re spending $2.2 billlion of taxpayer money to subsidize private schools — much of that to help rich people send their kids there?

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