The Florida Legislature is seated in the Florida State Capital in Tallahassee. The Florida Legislature is composed of 160 state legislators. The state’s legislature is responsible for creating and amending laws within the state of Florida. In order to do this, legislators are responsible for proposing legislation in the form of a bill. If successful, the legislation goes through a review, readings, and requires a majority vote. Then, the bill is either signed into law by the state’s governor or the bill is vetoed. The state’s legislature also has the ability to propose amendments within the states Constitution. Legislators only meets for sixty day regular sessions per year with the possibility of more if it is needed (Hinson, Godofsky & Stegel 75).
“In 1994, the Florida legislature passed the Government Performance and Accountability Act, requiring a statewide phased in conversion to a budgeting approach called “performance based program budgeting” (Grissle 2002). In 2002, Florida was one of only two states that applied this budgetary incentives program in their legislative framework. The Florida Legislature created the performance-based program in order to link agency services with results. The Florida statue “requires state agencies and the judicial branch to develop long range program plans to achieve state goals using an interagency planning process that includes the development of integrated agency program service outcomes” (OPPAGA 2016).
In 2014, Florida passed its largest budget in the history of the state. This record breaking budget was set at $77.1 billion. This large budget incorporated educational expenses, continued financing for their water waste treatment programs, government employees, and vehicle registration fees (Sigo 2014).
The state of Florida is consistently putting funds into their education budget. In 2014, both the House and the Senate approved a $75 billion budget that would go straight to K-12. This added approximately $207.98 per student for the next year. “Schools are also likely to receive more money for maintenance after several years with almost nothing in the state budget to fix roofs, replace equipment and take care of other long-term repairs. The House budget includes $59 million for district school maintenances, while the Senate includes $40 million” (O’Connor 2014). Furthermore, the state is also able to expand Florida’s tax credit scholarship program for children who attend private schools (O’Connor 2014).
Florida Retirement System (FRS)
“On January 17, 2013, the Supreme Court of Florida reversed the decision of a trial court and upheld various legislative modifications to the Florida Retirement System (FRS). The impact of this decision on Florida’s budget is nearly $1 billion per year” (Hinson, Godofsky & Stegel 75). There have been a handful of other states who have also adopted a similar rule.
The Florida Retirement System (FRS) is a mandated statewide retirement system that is utilized by several different types of employees. These employees consist of: state and government employees, school boards, as well as employees at universities and other public entities. The FRS, which is required for employees of covered employers, gives their participants their choice between two different plans. These plans consist of either a pension plan or an investment planed. Most members are enrolled in the pension plan. For the pension plan, “benefits are calculated based upon the employee’s average compensation during the five years in which they received their highest compensation (the average final compensation)” (Hinson, Godofsky & Stegel 76).
Furthermore, pension plan members receive a statutorily-determined percentage of their salary for every year of their service. The percentage is called the value percent. This percentage rages from 1.60 percent to 3.33 percent. The lower percentage is for employees that are considered “regular class”, while the higher percentage is used for judges, for example. The value percentage is then multiplied by the years the member has participated in the pension plan. The product of those two numbers makes up the accrued percentage. Lastly, “The annual benefit payable at retirement is calculated by multiplying the accrued percentage by the average final compensation” (Hinson, Godofsky & Stegel 76).
For example, if an employee has thirty years of service and a value percent of three percent, then that employee’s accrued percentage would be ninety percent. If the employee’s average salary is $100,000, then the starting annual benefit for that employee would be $90,000 a year (ninety percent of $100,000) (Hinson, Godofsky & Stegel 77).
Slot machines have been a big debate for the Florida Legislature. Ever since the Civil War, the state of Florida has prohibited lotteries. A lottery is considered to have four different elements through the Florida court system. The first three elements are: prize, chance and consideration. However, the Florida Supreme Court added an additional element. The fourth element states that the lottery must not have an isolated effect on the community the lottery is in. The slot machine fulfills all of these requirements (Shields 9).
In 2004, voters approved an amendment that permits slot machines in certain facilities throughout Broward County and Miami-Dade County in Florida. However, only facilities that conducted live races or games prior to the amendment were allowed to have slot machines in their facilities (Shields 14). For the first time in over 100 years, Florida residents were able to play slot machines within their own state.
Even though Florida’s budget is strong, the state is having problems when it comes to healthcare. Florida’s Medicaid costs continue to rise despite legislative efforts to make them stop. These efforts, such as the Medicaid Managed Care, at attempting to lower the cost of healthcare throughout the state. For years, the state has tapped into federal dollars from the Affordable Care Act in order to add more individuals with low incomes to Medicaid. However, this does not change the demand for healthcare services (Hatter 2016).
Recently, Florida legislature considers an anti-discrimination bill for the LGBT community. The bill will be heard for the first time in Tallahassee. This bill has been ignored by Florida government for over a decade. Gay rights activists believe it is showing that the state is changing when it comes to their strict views.
Over the past couple of years, the Florida Legislature has found that there are several bodies of water throughout the state in need of restoration. Thus, the state has created a program that is designed to control the amount of pollutions from bodies of water. This program, known as the Watershed Protection Act, is responsible for identifying impaired bodies of water and develop a plan to restore the water source (MacLaughlin 31).
The Kansas Legislature is assembled in a bicameral structure. In other words, it consists of the lower Kansas House of Representatives and the upper Kansas Senate. These houses consist of 125 representatives and 40 senators, thus 165 legislators in all (Kansas PTA 2016).
There are several steps a bill must go through in order to become a law in Kansas. First, any member of congress must introduce the legislation. Next, the political party in power assigns a committee chairperson. Then, the chairperson is given the power to decide whether or not the bill can continue in the process of becoming a law, or if the bill is going to be a dead-end. Next is the floor debates and votes. “Once a bill is voted out of committee, the next opportunity for action is an introduction to all members of it chamber of origin” (Kansas PTA 2016). After the bill has been passed, it is then referred on to the other chamber (House of Representatives or the Senate). The other chamber can decided whether or not to reject, or amend the bill (Kansas PTA 2016).
After the bill is passed by both sides of Congress, the bill is sent to the Governor to be signed into law. The Governor also has the power to either sign or veto the bill. The Governor also has the option to “pocket-veto” the bill. This means that the Governor choose to neither sign nor veto the bill (Kansas PTA 2016).
Recently, the Kansas Senate made and approved changes to the budget. It was stated that lawmakers must do one of two things: reduce spending or boost revenue by $175 million in order to balance the budget for the new fiscal year that starts July 1. The Legislature also is restricting the University of Kansas from utilizing public funds in order to pay for construction projects. They also gave additional funding to the Osawatomie State Hospital, which has been struggling financially. The hospital recently lost federal certification and the $1 million dollars a month that was given to the hospital in federal funds (Goossen 2016).
Another proposed change to the state’s budget is concerning the state pension system, the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS). According to Lowry (2016), the governor may be allowed to delay his contributions to the state’s pension system. “It would require that he pay the withheld payments at an 8 percent interest rate over 24 months”. The provision, however, does not include the amount in which the governor can withhold.
Overall, the state is predicted to have a shortfall of $190 million by the end of 2017 fiscal year. “The efficiency report tells lawmakers that in order to be financially healthy, Kansas must have a structurally balanced budget” (Goossen 2016).
The Kansas Legislature places a lot of emphasis on children and education. It was proposed that the legislature “must mandate financial literacy education (FLE) as a high school graduation requirement because the Kansas Department of Education has not ensured that all students are adequately prepared for their financial adult lives as required by the Kansas Constitution” (Miles 137).
Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS)
The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) was created in 1961 in order to provide benefit pension plans to employees throughout the state of Kansas. The membership for KPERS is mandatory for certain employees in eligible positions. This requirement is regardless of age. Employee contributions are fixed at 6 percent and are not included in gross income for tax purposes. However, employee contributions can be taxable for state tax purpose. Employer’s contribution, on the other hand, fluctuates depending on the amount of funds that are need by KPERS. KPERS allows members to retire at the age of 65 with a service requirement of at least two quarters (KPERS 2016).
In 2016, a bill was proposed to expand Medicaid throughout the state. Medicaid, which provides insurance for individuals with low incomes or disabilities, would provide healthcare to several thousands of individuals throughout the state of Kansas. Furthermore, “More than half of the estimated 150,000 Kansans who could gain insurance coverage from expanded Medicaid are employed, according to analysis from the hospital association” (Dunn 2016). Thus, contributing members of society will be able to have access to healthcare.
In 2012, Governor Brownback cut income tax, which as a result, disproportionately benefitted Kansas’s wealthiest individuals. “Today, annual income tax collections would be $1 billion higher, if not for the 2012 tax cuts. Instead, recurring general fund revenue only reaches an estimated $6.1 billion in FY 2017, even after lawmakers raised sales and cigarette tax rates last year (Goossen 2016).
Until lawmakers release the income tax cuts were too much and fix the problem, Kansas will continue to suffer economic consequences. State agencies and schools will continue to face an uncertain future. Money is not guarantee when it comes to these two industries. Their funding can be pulled at any moment. Furthermore, the further problems associated to the income tax cuts go, the more likely the state will be more focused on crisis resolution instead of focusing on essential services, such as education, that really matter when it comes to the future (Goossen 2016).
Overall, when it comes to Kansas, in order to be financially healthy again, the state needs to raise funds in order to cover important expenses. According to Goossen (2016), “adopting the governor’s structurally unbalanced FY 2017 budget only guarantees that Kansas will continue to struggle, and face financial troubles again next year”.
The Florida Legislature is slightly smaller than Kansas’s. Kansas has five more legislators than Florida. Which is surprising consider the different sizes of the state. Florida is quite about more populated than Kansas. The population of Florida was 19,893,297 in 2014; whereas Kansas, on the other hand, had a population of 2,904,021 in 2014 (United States Census Bureau). However, both states follow the same rules and steps when it comes to passing a bill. Florida has the Government Performance and Accountability Act, Kansas does not.
Both states have their own retirement system. In Florida, the Florida Retirement System is based on an employee’s average compensation during the five years when that individual has received their highest compensation. The Kanas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS), on the other hand, is paid into by the state, the employee and the employer. The employee must pay a required 6 percent into the pension system, whereas the employers contribution fluctuates based on need.
The retirement and pension systems is the biggest difference when it comes to these two states and their legislatures. Florida places a ton of emphasis on their retirement program and how much money is contributed to it. Furthermore, in 2013, the Supreme Court made it mandatory for the state to pay more into the system. Kansas, on the other hand, is taking out a second mortgage on their pension system. The governor is attempting to delay his payments into the system over a given amount of time, with interest. This shows the differences the states have when it comes to state funds and retirement funds. A significant number of people in and throughout the state of Florida, however, are either at retirement age or are getting ready to enter that stage of life. Kansas, on the other hand, does not have such as large of volume when it comes to retirement community.
Another difference between Kansas and Florida Legislatures is with education. Kansas is struggling when it comes to funding education through the state. Florida, on the other hand, is not only able to keep up with the needs of their school districts but they are also able to add more funds to up keep of buildings and other facilities. Kansas is the complete opposite. School programs are constantly being cut and other important aspects of education are getting unfunded by the state. Furthermore, some schools have had to close due to lack of adequate funding in order to keep the school running functionally. Overall, Kansas is struggling with keeping their doors open while Florida is remodeling their schools.
One advantage that Kansas has over Florida is with their healthcare. Florida is struggling when it comes to healthcare costs throughout the state. Kansas, on the other hand, has created a plan to expand Medicaid throughout the state. This plan expands Medicaid to low-income adults. Over thirty states have expanded their Medicaid, however, Florida is not one of them. They still have no expanded their Medicaid program to cover low-income adults (Hatter 2016).
One small differences between these two states is with their gambling laws and regulations. It was not until 2004 that the state of Florida aloud slot machine in certain facilities throughout the state. Kansas, on the other hand, is not new when it comes to the gambling world. Slot machines and gambling facilities have always been big throughout the state.
The last main difference has to deal with the budgets of the two states. Florida just recently passed their largest budget in the history of the state. Their impressive $77.1 billion budget shows that the state is going through a relative stable economic state. Kansas, on the other hand, is having some problems when it comes to financial contributions. The state is badly needing to raise funds in order to cover important expenses, such as education expense for K-12. However, Florida is able to maintain and repair their schools. The state is also more focused on keeping their test scores up, whereas Kansas is more focused on trying to fund their public schools. Overall, each state has strengths and weaknesses. Florida suffers economically when it comes to healthcare costs. Kansas, on the other hand, suffer with their overall budget and being able to maintain current and future financial stability. It is easy to see how the two states differ in outcome based on which aspects of the budget the state wants to emphasis.
Dunn, Gabriella. “Kansas Senate, House bills propose Medicaid expansion”. The Wichita Eagle (2016). Retrieved on February 9, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article59241373.html
Kansas PTA. “Issue Brief- How a Bill Becomes a Law”. Kansas PTA Legislative Connection (2016). Retrieved on February 9, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.kansas-pta legislative.org/?q=ib_HowBillToLaw
KPERS. “Benefit Changes”. (2016). Retrieved on February 9, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.kpers.org/changes/index.html
Goossen, Duane. “Governor’s Budget Prolongs Financial Trouble”. (2016). Retrieved on February 9, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.kansasbudget.com
Grizzle, Gloria. “Implementing Performance-Based Program Budgeting: A System-Dynamics Perspective”. Public Administration Review, 62, 1 (2002). Retrieved on February 2, 2016.
Hatter, Lynn. “Top Issues of the 2016 Florida Legislative Session”. (2016). Retrieved on February 9, 2016. Retrieved from http://news.wfsu.org/post/top-issues-2016-florida legislative-session
Hinson, Doug, Godofsky, David, & Stegel, Richard. “Florida Supreme Court Upholds Right of Legislature to Prospectively Alter Public Employee Retirement Benefits”. Benefits Law Journal, 26, 2, 75-82 (2013). Retrieved on February 2, 2016.
MacLaughlin, Douglas. “Will Basin Management Action Plans Restore Florida’s Impaired Waters?” Environmental and Land Use Law, 31-35.
Miles, Ja’net. “Focus on the Children, Help the Economy: The Importance of Including Financial Education in Kansas Graduation Requirements”. Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, 136-155 (2014). Retrieved on February 9, 2016.
O’Connor, John. “Checking in on Education Bills as Florida Legislature Reaches Halfway Point”. (2014). Retrieved on February 9, 2016. Retrieved from https://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2014/04/07/checking-in-on-education-bills-as-florida legislature-reaches-halfway-point/
“Perfomrance-Based Program Budgeting” (2016). The Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability. Retrieved on February 2, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/shell.aspx?pagepath=pb2.htm
Shields, David. “Slot Machines in Florida? Wait a Minute”. The Florida Bar Journal, 9-17.
Sigo, Shelly. “Florida Legislature Passes Record $77.1B Budget”. Budget, 123, 34104 (2014). Retrieved on February 7, 2016.
United States Census Bureau. “State & County QuickFacts”. Retrieved on February 9, 2016. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/20000.html