State budget taking shape, health funding to be decided in committee

Halfway through the 2012 Florida Legislative session, the state budget is taking shape in both the House and Senate. Last Thursday, the House passed its $69.2 billion budget for 2012-13. The House budget includes level funding for Healthy Start and fails to authorize federal funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) initiative, which supports the new Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program in Jacksonville. The House budget also zeroes out funding for “Closing the Gap” grants to address health disparities, including high rates of infant mortality in minority communities.

Health and social service programs fare better in the yet-to-be-adopted Senate budget. The Senate budget proposal, offered by the Health & Human Services Subcommittee chaired by Senator Joe Negron, includes a $200 million increase over last year’s budget. Cuts ($5.4 million) made to Healthy Start in the final hours of the 2011-12 session are restored and remaining federal funding is authorized for the MIECHV initiative. The Senate budget proposal also includes funding to continue “Closing the Gap” grants.

Once the Senate formally adopts its budget, likely this week, the two bodies will meet in conference to negotiate a final budget document.

For info on the budgets: