(The Center Square) – Three of the biggest components of Florida’s state budget were revealed this week as lawmakers set out to appropriate $42 billion in state revenues for fiscal 2024.
Appropriations subcommittees in both chambers Wednesday both recommended more than $35 billion for Medicaid (more than $20 billion of that coming from federal funds) and nearly $19 billion for K-12 education. These are of the biggest chunks of the state budget, along with social services, which the two chambers both recommended more than $4.6 billion in state and federal spending.
According to the state’s long range financial outlook report released in September, the state will have a surplus of at least $13 billion.
The Florida Education Finance Program is the state’s formula to appropriate funds to school districts for K-12 public school operations, including the funding of charter schools and The Family Empowerment Scholarship Program.
The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee met on Wednesday and recommended an appropriation of $18.45 billion. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Education endorsed a total of $18.9 billion at its Wednesday meeting, a difference of $463.8 million that will have to be ironed out in conference.
Medicaid is a state and federal matching program which provides health care coverage for eligible low-income individuals and families. Medicaid represents 34.2% of the total state budget and is the largest source of federal funding.
The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee recommended $35.25 billion in state and federal funds for Medicaid for fiscal 2024 at its meeting on Wednesday. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services recommended a total of $36 billion on Wednesday, a difference of $788 million.
Both committees also differed on outlays for welfare programs for children and families such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The House subcommittee had a recommendation of $4.98 billion, while the Senate proposed an appropriation of $4.66 billion, a difference of $312 million.
The Division of Emergency Management estimated that $243.9 million should be included in the budget under critical needs to meet the state’s obligation to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for all federally declared disasters for fiscal 2024. This is projected to fall to $160 million for 2025, although increases are possible due to future natural disasters.
The state’s long range plan also predicted a bigger outlay for the $3.2 billion State Group Health Insurance Program. It is expected to increase by $274.8 million in fiscal 2024 to increase employer-paid benefits for state employees. The plan serves 350,000 state and university employees, retirees and their families.
There are also significant risks to consider in the budget and that includes natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding which cost Florida around $11 billion in 2022 after hurricanes Ian and Nicole made landfall in the Sunshine State.
The report also states that one of the key drivers of Florida’s economy are the new arrivals and population growth is expected to continue at a rate of 1.4% up until 2030.