Florida Legislature, Update 7


Legislative Update – Session Update #7

May 1, 2017

Legislature Poised to End May 5th

legislative update

House and Senate budget conferees met throughout the weekend after
agreement was reached on allocations to the various budget entities.
This Legislative Update was delayed to report on those activities as it
relates to higher education. Unfortunately, some of the compromises made
are potentially harmful to UFF members. Note: The final 2017 Legislative
Update will probably be on May 8th should session end on time.

2017-18 Higher Education Budget

While some specific projects and facility issues are unresolved as of
this writing, all budget entities are expected to be completed sometime
on May 2nd. The major issues are agreed upon in principle. Here are the

  1. The overall funding for Florida Colleges is $1.215 billion, a
    reduction of $26 million from the current year. $30.2 million was
    reduced in the line item for Developmental Education. This reduction was
    vigorously opposed by every sector representing Florida Colleges and
    faculty. There were no reduction made due to carryover reserves held by
    the colleges as proposed by the House. Performance funding was
    maintained at $60 million with $30 million from college base funding and
    $30 million in state funds. Some specific projects are still not agreed
    upon so the bottom line may increase by a small amount.
  2. 2) Estimated tuition and fees for Florida Colleges were set at $1.024
    billion in the agreement.
  3. 3) Universities are funded at $4.97 billion which includes $1.96 billion
    in tuition and fees. The universities have an increase of approximately
    $240 million over the current year. University Performance Funding was
    increased by a total of $20 million to $520 million. State performance
    funding grows to $245 million and base funding of $275 million is
  4. 4) The budget will also establish two new program priorities of Senate
    President Negron, incorporated into SB 374. They are the World Class
    Faculty and Scholar Program at $70.6 million and the State University
    and Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program at $50 million.
    5) Preeminent State Research Universities receive $48 million in the
    budget deal and Emerging Preeminent State Research Universities receive
    a total of $4 million.
  5. 6) With the anticipated passage of SB 374, the budget provides $3.14
    million to establish the new State Board of Community Colleges which
    will oversee the Florida Colleges similar to the Board of Governors and
    the State University System.

Higher Education Policy

SB 374 has been agreed upon, in principle, and funded in the budget
agreement but has not adopted in final passage by the Legislature. A
more complete report will be included in the Final UFF Legislative
Update but “highlights” are as follows:

  • Removes state colleges from the oversight of the State Board of
    Education and put them under a new State Board of Community Colleges.
  • Enacts new performance metrics in both the college and university systems.
  • Establishes a 4-year graduation metric for universities.
  • Increases student financial aid and tuition assistance for Florida Bright
    Futures Academic Scholars in fall and spring terms and adds support to these
    students in the summer term.
  • Revises the state-to-private match requirements for contributions to the
    First Generation Matching Grant Program from 1:1 to 2:1.
  • Requires state university boards of trustees to adopt a student block tuition
    policy for adoption in the fall 2018 semester. A report to the Legislature is
    required by December 1, 2017 of the adopted policies, the Board of Governor’s
    review and approval process and the BOG recommendations for improvement of the
    block tuition policies.
  • Strengthens “2+2” articulation by establishing the “2+2” targeted pathway program.
  • Requires school districts to provide notification to students and parents about
    applying acceleration mechanism credit to a postsecondary degree.
  • Creates a scholarship program for students from farmworker families.
  • Adds funding pools for hiring and retaining top-level faculty and rewarding
    outstanding graduate programs.

SB 7030 – FRS, State Employee Health Insurance, and State Employee Pay Raises

On May 1st, this retirement bill became the delete all bill that
combined the state employee health insurance bill and the state employee
pay raise into a package agree upon by the House and Senate leadership.
The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and is on the way to
the Senate floor and then the House floor for final passage later this

The bill as passed in Senate Appropriations will reverse the default
choice for future employees from the defined benefit plan to the defined
investment plan, except for special risk employees. The logic being
police and fire are long-term employees and faculty, K-12 teachers, and
state employees are not. We have strong reason to believe this will
negatively impact the future of the FRS defined benefit system. The
Senate committee did change the decision making time from six to nine
months. Employee unions are going to have to educate new hires on the
plusses and minuses of both plans.

The amendment to SB 7030 added the state employee health insurance bill
which has concerned UFF all session. The most significant provision of
HB 7007, as described in the April 25, 2017 Senate Bill Analysis
(shading and underlining for emphasis) is as follows:

HB 7007 amends provisions of the State Group Health Insurance Program.
The bill, for plan year 2020 and thereafter, requires the Department of
Management Services (DMS) to offer four health insurance coverage levels
of at least a certain actuarial value under the Program as follows:
Platinum – 90 percent, Gold – 80 percent, Silver – 70 percent, and
Bronze – 60 percent. The state will make a defined contribution for each
employee toward the cost of purchasing a health plan. If the state’s
contribution is more than the premium cost of the health plan selected
by the employee, the bill specifies that the employee will be permitted
to allocate unused state health insurance contributions to other
benefits or as salary. The bill requires the DMS to recommend
contribution policies and employee education strategies regarding the
coverage levels and other benefit alternatives

What will be the defined contribution? No one knows if it will fund the
60% actuarial value, the 90% actuarial value or somewhere in between.

This proposal, while being sold on the aspects of health insurance
choice, health savings accounts, and a small amount of price
transparency, will most certainly shift the cost
of health insurance in
2020, if not sooner, to those employees with medical concerns and those
at greater risk.

There is no real plan to curb escalating health care costs except for
more price transparency.

Other Legislation – Status Report

Fee Waivers for Graduate Assistants

SB 1276 waives 25% of fees for graduate teaching assistants and graduate
research assistants. These fees consume up to 25% of a graduate
assistant’s pay. While still in play, unfortunately, the only real
opportunity left is that the bill be placed on what is called a higher
education train bill which adds bills blessed by both House and Senate
onto a single bill.

Union Decertification

HB 11 would require that each certified bargaining unit of a registered
employee organization must provide the number of eligible employees for
union membership and the number of dues paying members to PERC. If the
certified bargaining unit dues paying membership is less than 50%, that
bargaining unit must petition PERC for recertification as the exclusive
bargaining representative within one month after the date on which the
bargaining unit applied for renewal. Then an election would be held
through PERC for recertification of the bargaining unit.

HB 11 has passed the House but its companion SB 1292 has not been heard
but UFF and FEA will remain vigilant with only four days to go.

Secret Executive Searches

HB 351 sponsored would create an exemption from public record and
meeting requirements for information associated with the applicant
recruitment process and discussions associated with the applicant search
for president, vice president, provost, or dean at any state university,
college, or community college. UFF opposes this legislation that permits
a cloak of secrecy around the process of selecting university and
college leadership.

The bill passed the full House. On a positive note, the companion SB 478
has not been heard in any Senate committee of reference.

Guns on Campus

Neither SB 622 by Senator nor HB 6005 have been heard in any legislative
committee. That is good news!


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