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Fla's Health And Education Agencies Present 2013 Budget Plans

The Florida Department of Education wants a financial boost next year. The Department controls the budgets for the state’s public schools, community and state colleges and voluntary pre-kindergarten programs. And the department’s Tracy Banner says the bulk of the funding increase would go to one particular area:

“As you can see the majority of this increase, $534.9 million, is in the K-12 area. And as you will recall from Mark’s presentation earlier, $441.8 of that is for the technology modernization initiative.”

That money will help schools shore up their internet capacity and purchase more tablet computers like kindles and iPads. The digital transition has support from Governor Rick Scott, who listed it as part of his  education agenda. Meanwhile, public universities are holding lawmakers to a promise to restore a $300 million hit to their savings accounts as part of $3.2 billion dollar funding request from the Florida Board of Governors.

“Some of the key LBR issues we’re requesting is $50 million dollars for critical deferred maintenance. These are projects that need to take care of leaky roofs and critical life-safety issues and so forth," says the board's Chief Financial Officer Tim Jones.   

Meanwhile, when it comes to healthcare, the Agency for Healthcare Administration, wants $22 billion next year. The agency runs Florida’s Medicaid program for low-income people. And it’s been trying to rein costs. It’s 2013 budget request is about $240 million less than what its getting now. The reduction includes getting rid of Medicaid coverage for adults who use chiropractic and podiatric care and reducing the number of people in the Medically Needy program.

“That means that coverage for the people in the medically needy eligibility group about 138 percent would no longer be able to receive coverage from the Medicaid program, but they’d be expected to receive coverage from the health insurance exchange," said AHCA budget director Anita Hicks.

The agency is pitching a similar plan for pregnant women. Medically needy is for low-income people who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but can’t afford to purchase insurance on their own and have large medical bills. Florida has refused to set up a health insurance exchange on its own, and that means the federal government will. The state has also refused to expand Medicaid—which would cover the people who are now in the Medically needy program. Both the Medicaid expansion and health insurance exchanges are optional parts of the federal healthcare overhaul law which is opposed by the state’s Republican leadership.

For more news updates, follow Lynn Hatter on twitter @HatterLynn

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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