House leadership priorities are getting funding from Senators in at least one area of the budget.
The 2020 Legislative Session officially entered its home stretch on Saturday, when House and Senate conferees first met to start hashing out differences as negotiations continue Sunday.
The Senate offer in Transportation and Economic Appropriations shows money for some Miami museums that weren’t initially included. House Speaker Jose Oliva and Reps. Bryan Avila and Holly Raschein and others represent parts of Miami-Dade County.
The Senate had originally zeroed out funding for the Miami Military Museum. The House wanted $600,000. The Senate not only came back with that funding, but offered more in its counteroffer — $1 million.
The Senate had also decided not to fund the Bay of Pigs Museum, while the House had wanted $1.5 million. In the end, the Senate moved to the House’s position. The Senate has also agreed to increase National Guard tuition assistance by $1 million, which was the House’s position.
The Legislature’s allocation agreements include $13.2 billion for Pre-K education, $4.7 billion for higher education, $10.6 billion for health care, $4.7 billion for the justice system, $201.4 million for transportation and tourism, $537.8 million for agriculture and the environment, $341.5 million for government operations and $656.7 million for administered funds and statewide issues.
In education, the House decided to accept the Senate’s position on teacher pay raises in its first offer to the Senate, meaning that the legislature will spend $500 million on raises, with no bonuses. Gov. Ron DeSantis had proposed $900 million, with $600 million going to teacher raises for starting teachers and $300 million going to teacher bonuses.
House leaders also gave the Board of Governors $45 million in higher education funding. They recommended spending $30 million to help preeminent research universities rise in national rankings, and $15 million for Universities of Distinction, a newly created program aimed at highlighting Florida’s non-preeminent universities. The House had eliminated funding for both earlier this year.
In all, the offer restored about $15 million in cuts, from $50 million to $35 million.