Florida Senate passes budget focused on education, safety, opioid abuse

(FreeImages.com/Jason Morrison)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Senate passed a bill Sunday for a balanced state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, providing K-12 student funding, investments in Florida Forever programs and prioritization funding for residents of Florida's nursing homes.

“This balanced budget includes unprecedented K-12 per student funding, targeted pay raises for state law enforcement, state firefighters, and Department of Juvenile Justice probation and detention officers, and $100 million for Florida Forever, while setting aside $3.3 billion in reserves,” said Florida Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart).

Officials said the budget also accounts for $400 million in critical investments for public and school safety, signed into law as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, $53.5 million to fund treatment and prevention of opioid abuse and about $124 million for need-based and merit-based student financial aid.

“There is nothing more important than our children’s safety, and this budget demonstrates our commitment to keeping our children safe by accounting for the $400 million investment in school safety and community mental health signed into law on Friday by Gov. Scott,” said Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island). “Our budget also includes record funding for K-12 and higher education, and accounts for the permanent expansion of Bright Futures Academic and Medallion Scholarships.”

Investments are being made into drug and veterans courts, prevention programs such as PACE and AMIKids, pay increases for public defenders and prosecutors and record funding for the St. Johns River and Keystone Heights Lakes Region.

The Senate also fought for more than 80,000 people who reside in nursing homes.

"I'm proud that our budget will include a significant increase in funding for the women and men who shaped our communities, including an increase in the personal needs allowance from $105 to$130 per month,” Negron said. “When I chaired appropriations, under the leadership of President Don Gaetz, the Senate led the effort to increase the personal needs allowance from $35 to $105 ... Our elders deserve to keep enough of the Social Security benefits they earned to maintain their dignity and have the ability to pay for a haircut, a new outfit, or a present for a grandchild. This appropriation has no lobbyist, no special interest, no campaign to advocate for it. This is for our mothers and fathers, grandparents, veterans, and persons with disabilities who are looking to us for basic decency.”

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