Guest Presenters:

  • Rep. Kristen Arrington, (District 46 – Kissimmee)
  • Rep. Lindsay Cross, (District 60 – St. Petersburg)

    Rep. Arrington (L) and Rep. Cross (R)

FCAN Host: Deborah Martin, Policy Analyst

Florida lawmakers passed 356 bills and a record-breaking $117 billion budget during the 2023 legislative session. Major policy changes include expansion of career and technical education (CTE) and work-based learning in the K-12 system, universal charter school vouchers for Florida students, and the creation of various funding and workforce programs to continue addressing Florida’s teacher shortage.

On May 30, FCAN hosted a webinar highlighting some of these bills. Unless otherwise indicated, all bills discussed below — along with the budget — are waiting for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature. The featured panelists were policymakers who discussed legislation championed during session.

Rep. Kristen Arrington on “guidance services for academic and career planning”

Committee substitute for Senate Bill (CS/SB) 196 adds CTE and work-based learning to the current conversations school counselors have with students. Now, counselors must also discuss the following: career and professional academies, career-themed courses, the CTE pathway to earn a standard high school diploma, work-based learning opportunities, and foundational and soft-skill credentialing programs. The bill was signed on May 17, 2023 and takes effect on July 1, 2023.

“It makes them aware of not only the universities but of the career and technical opportunities close to home as well, ways they can graduate (non-traditionally), and internship opportunities,” said Rep. Kristen Arrington (Kissimmee).

A three-year effort, Arrington shared the work that went behind this bill and the impact it will have for her district and the greater state of Florida as well.

“For an area like mine, with Valencia’s [College] advanced manufacturing center and interesting careers like underwater welding, it’s great that in an area where students and their parents speak Spanish, they’ll be able to learn about these career opportunities in their home language,” Arrington said.

Rep. Lindsay Cross on the “Step into Success Pilot Program” and “nursing education for military combat medics”

A co-sponsor on a couple of higher education bills, Rep. Lindsay Cross (St. Petersburg) provided insight on CS/SB 1190 and SB 274.

CS/SB 1190 creates the Step into Success Workforce Education and Internship Pilot Program for foster youth. This is a three-year program that would provide eligible current and former youth (ages 17-25) with the opportunity to learn and develop essential workforce and professional skills and receive assistance in their transition to independent living. The bill appropriates $500,000 in recurring funds for the administration of this pilot. The bill takes effect on July 1, 2023.

“We want to make sure our foster youth have the tools so that they will be successful in school or in the workforce,” said Cross.

SB 274 creates the “Pathway for Military Combat Medics Act”, another attempt from the legislature to address Florida’s nursing shortage. Military combat medics would be eligible to receive postsecondary course credits or career education clock hours for their medic experience in the military. The Articulation Coordinating Committee (ACC) is responsible for determining the credit and clock hour equivalencies. The bill was signed on May 26, 2023 and took effect upon signing.

“We, as a legislature, have to be looking at providing support for institutions, for creative solutions to address some of the shortages we have in our workforce. And students, regardless of what age they are and their previous life experiences, can get the education that they need, have jobs that are exciting to them, and help to serve others in their community,” said Cross.

Other topics covered

Additional bills discussed include the following:

  • CS/CS/SB 240: Education
  • CS/SB 1272: Educational Grants
  • CS/HB 1035: K-12 Teachers

The webinar also covered on the $117 billion budget. Top lines include:

  • State University System (SUS): $3.68 billion
  • Florida College System (FCS): $1.59 billion
  • Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG): $387 million for Florida’s need-based aid program
  • Bright Futures Scholarship Program: $590.6 million
  • Effective Access to Student Education (EASE) Grant: $134.8 million, funding for 37,728 students
  • Workforce Education: $650 million

Show Notes

To learn more about recent legislation impacting postsecondary education – or to view the recording and download the presentation – take advantage of these resources:

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