From Marshall Ogletree, Interim Executive Director of UFF:
BUDGET CONFEREES MEET
While the House rejected the Senate proposal and hundreds of million dollars in federal health insurance funds, the two sides did begin meeting over the past weekend to begin talks on adopting a budget for 2015-16.
The total allocation adopted by the budget chairs and the presiding officers for higher education is $7.037 billion but the spending is different between the Senate and House budgets. The House has offered $4.519 billion for the State University System while the Senate offer is $29 million less at $4.49 billion. The Senate has offered $41 million more than the House for the Florida College System, $1.205 billion compared to $1.164 billion. Conferees will continue this week to try and reach agreement on the funding differences. There is a 72-hour waiting period upon agreement of the entire budget and the actual vote to pass it and send it to the Governor. The Special Session is to end on June 20th.
There are major differences around the issue of performance funding in the State University System and for the first time in the Florida College System. Here are the current positions of the House and Senate.
State University System
The Senate increases the new state funding for performance to $200 million while the House remains at $100 million. The institutional investment from base funds are $200 million in the Senate offer and $100 million in the House offer. The Senate also wants to put the statutory requirements for this funding in the budget implementing bill, the House does not. The implementing bill is valid for the 2015-16 budget year only. Both budget proposals contain proviso language directing how the performance funds are to be used. Clearly, the House version of performance funding is preferable.
Florida College System
The House plan is preferable as they fund performance at $20 million versus $60 million in the Senate budget. The House plan includes only state funds while the Senate version tracks the SUS model with $30 million from new state funds and $30 million from existing college base funding. Again, the Senate writes statutory language for the 2015-16 year in its implementing bill.
STATE GROUP HEALTH INSURANCE
HB 21A which addresses the state group health insurance plan may be heard this week. Parts of that plan could have negative implications for university faculty in the future. UFF continues working on this issue in partnership with other unions whose members are also impacted by the bill. More to come.