It is my pleasure to present the 2011 Annual Report of the Broward Legislative Delegation highlighting the results of the Legislative Session. This report includes a report on local bills as well as the 2011-2012 Final Budget Report for Broward County.
In preparation for the session, the Delegation scheduled a one day public hearing at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center. Many organizations and citizens attended and presented their legislative requests for consideration by the members. In addition, the Delegation was invited to workshop legislative requests from the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, the Broward School Board and the Broward League of Cities.
This report includes information for the members of the Broward Legislative Delegation including addresses, phone numbers, legislative committee assignments, staff and email addresses. Information regarding specific legislation sponsored by the members can be found at: www.myfloridahouse.gov and www.flsenate.gov.
Florida continued to face many challenges as a result of the economic downturn which has faced our country over the past few years. The Legislature had to trim nearly $4 billion to cover a revenue gap and managed to avoid tax increases. We were able to set aside $2.2 billion in reserves as part of the State’s $70 billion spending plan. The State will reduce its workforce by 4,429 in this budget. Some of the other cuts in the budget are as follows:
- Safety net hospitals that serve the poor will see their Medicaid reimbursement rates decline by 12 percent. State and required local funding in Florida’s public schools will drop by $1.3 billion for an 8 percent cut in per student funding. Tuition rates will increase by 8 percent at community colleges as well as public universities.
- Prisons in an 18 county area of Southern Florida will be turned over to private contractors. This change is expected to save the State at least 7 percent over current cost of public prisons and will result in a layoff of up to 1,751 current state prison employees. The Department of Corrections will also have health services privatized.
- The Legislature also reduced the Everglades restoration fund from $50 million to $29 million and eliminated funding for the Florida Forever land-buying program.
- A total of $428 million will be transferred from trust funds into general State spending including $150 million from the Transportation Trust Fund, which is supported by fuel taxes.
- Consumers will continue to receive a $25.6 million, three-day sales tax holiday on clothing and other back-to-school items in August.
- In an effort to encourage businesses to expand and hire more employees, corporate income tax was cut $30 million a year by increasing the exemption from $5,000 to $25,000. This will save each company $1,100.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as Chair of the Broward Legislative Delegation. I want to thank my distinguished colleague, Representative Evan Jenne, our Vice Chair, and the members of the Delegation for their support and confidence. In addition, I would like to thank the staff of the Delegation including our Executive Director, Sandy Harris; Administrative Assistant, Dee Lynch; and Delegation Counsel, Eugene M. Steinfeld. Their commitment to professionalism is an asset not only to the Delegation but to the citizens of Broward County.
Senator Christopher “Chris” Smith
Chair, Broward Legislative Delegation