State Workers Honored For Saving Taxpayers More Than $558 Million

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News Release: Florida Senate

Tallahassee–The Florida Senate today passed House Bill 5001, The General Appropriations Act, as amended with Senate Bill 2500, placing the Florida Legislature in posture to begin the 2014-15 Budget Conference. Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart), Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, released the following statements.

President Gaetz:
“Today the Senate approved funding for a number of priorities outlined in the joint House and Senate Work Plan 2014 agenda. Funding to enhance services at Children’s Advocacy Centers, to facilitate the maximum current year expansion of the Guardian Ad Litem Program and to serve more Floridians on the Agency for Persons With Disabilities critical needs waiting list are all key components of our combined effort to protect Florida’s most vulnerable citizens. Additionally, our budget rewards our state universities that cement the link between education and jobs and allocates funding for increased student access to Career and Professional Education (CAPE) industry certification opportunities in order to advance the House and Senate efforts to expand economic opportunity through education.”

Chair Negron:
“Our budget represents a common sense spending, saving and investment strategy for the state. We allocated funding to provide critical services for our most vulnerable, strategic investments in our state infrastructure and $586 million to shore up the Florida Retirement System. Just as important as what we funded in this budget, is the revenue left unspent. We set aside over $3 billion in reserves, which total more than 10 percent of general revenue and prioritized a $500 million broad-based tax cut that will impact Florida families and businesses for years to come.”

Budget Overview
The Senate Budget totals $74.9 billion including $27.4 billion general revenue (GR) and $47.5 billion in trust funds (TF). The budget funds $586 million for the 2014-15 unfunded actuarial liability of the Florida Retirement System, sets aside $500 million for recurring tax relief and $3.2 billion in total state reserves.

Reserves include $1.5 billion Working Capital, $214.5 million for a Budget Stabilization Fund transfer (Fiscal Year 2014-2015 transfer), $922.8 million in the Budget Stabilization Fund (estimated June 30, 2014 balance based on anticipated transfers), and $573 million in the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund (estimated June 30, 2014 balance). Reserves total 10.1 percent of General Revenue. The Senate Budget also includes a pay increase for the state court system totaling $9.7 million GR and $321.4 million for maintaining and building education facilities.

Criminal and Civil Justice
The budget funds the Criminal Justice Estimating Conference’s (CJEC) prison population forecast for the Department of Corrections in Fiscal Year 2013-14 and Fiscal Year 2014-15 and also funds District Courts of Appeal critical maintenance and repairs, security enhancements, and partial construction of new District Court of Appeals building, $10.7 million GR.

The budget funds Guardian Ad Litem staffing to support the Program’s plan to serve all children in dependency; $6.1 million GR, 105.5 FTE, and funds Children’s Advocacy Center services, including medical team services, $4.5 million GR. The budget funds the PACE Center for Girls expansion, $2 million GR, and CINS/FINS expansion in underserved areas, $3.4 million GR.

State appropriations for education total $18.7 billion ($14.3 billion GR; $4.4 billion TF), excluding appropriated university tuition and fees. Total funding for education, including local revenues amounts to $29.7 billion ($18.7 billion state funds; $11 billion local). The budget does not include a tuition increase for state colleges, universities, or district workforce programs, nor does it require a local millage increase.

In K-12 Education, funding for the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) is increased by $651 million or 3.56 percent, a per student increase of $175 or 2.58 percent. The enrollment workload increase of $99.6 million was funded with GR. The K-12 budget also includes an additional $30 million for high school and middle school industry certifications, $40 million for the Digital Classrooms Allocation and at least $90 million to expand the extended day program for intensive reading to 300 elementary schools.

The budget for Florida’s State University System includes $200 million in performance funding, $100 million in new funds (TF), and a $100 million reprioritization of base funds (GR).

To increase student access to higher education opportunities, the budget provides a workload increase and a student level award increase for the FRAG, $22.7 million GR and the ABLE Grant, $2.4 million GR. The budget also provides a student level award increase for Bright Futures, $25 million TF a 9.4 percent increase, and an FSAG increase of $25 million TF.

General Government
The budget funds citrus research and the Budwood Program with $2 million GR and $4 million TF; Florida Forever, $40 million TF; water infrastructure, $42 million, GR; state parks maintenance and repair, $19.6 million TF; local parks, $3.2 TF; and beach restoration, $27.4 million GR and $21.8 million TF. The budget also funds the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin, $77.1 million GR and $50.7 million TF.

Health and Human Services
The budget includes funding to transition wait list individuals to the home and community-based services waiver (approximately 1,400 individuals) through $8.1 million GR, $11.9 million TF and funding to serve additional clients in the long-term care managed care program (approximately 1,136 individuals), $6.6 million GR; $9.7 million TF.

The budget increases PACE slots, $1.9 million GR; $2.9 million TF, and includes funds to serve frail elders waiting for Alzheimer’s Disease services (392 Slots), $4 million GR. Funding will also serve additional clients in the community care for the elderly program (601 Slots), $4 million GR and civil commitment facility capacity for violent sexual predators, $1.5 million TF.

The budget will provide substance abuse services for pregnant women, $10 million GR; children’s mental health Community Action Teams, $8.1 million GR; adult community mental health funding, $4 million GR; domestic violence services, $4 million GR; and adult/children community substance abuse funding, $3.6 million GR.

The budget also doubles the personal needs allowance (currently $35 per month) for Medicaid patients living in nursing homes, $9.1 million GR; $10.9 million TF; provides for the phase one construction of new state veterans’ nursing home, $11 million TF; and funds ongoing maintenance and repair of state veterans’ nursing homes and other domiciliary, $7.8 million TF.

Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development
The Senate budget includes $8.7 billion for the DOT Work Program and $226.3 million for state and local affordable housing programs. The budget also provides $75.5 million for economic development incentive programs and $117.7 million for our economic development partners (EFI, Visit Florida, Space Florida, etc.)

The budget includes funding for additional positions at the Florida Highway Patrol, $3.1 million, 25 FTE. The budget also makes a significant investment the arts, culture and history by transitioning funding for state libraries, cultural programs, and historic preservation grants from non-recurring to recurring. In total the budget funds: state aid to libraries, $22.3 million GR; library cooperative grants, $1.5 million GR; cultural and museum grants, $7.6 million GR (of which, $5.5 million is recurring), cultural endowment grants, $6.9 million GR; cultural facilities grants, $7.1 million; and historic preservation grants, $10 million GR (of which, $1.5 million is recurring).

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By: Andy Alcock
April 3, 2014, 6pm

There's been a savings of more than a half billion Florida tax dollars.

Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera joined Florida TaxWatch to announce the 2014 Prudential Productivity Awards.

The 26th annual awards will honor 432 individuals and teams of state employees for finding new ways to save tax money.

With their work, the winners have produced $558-million dollars in cost savings for state government.

"We're looking for those things that are not just good ideas, but men and women who went above and beyond the call of duty that saved taxpayers money and improved the quality of services," said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro.

Of the 432 award winners, 195 will receive cash from private sponsors or plaque awards during regional ceremonies later this summer.

Since 1989, Florida TaxWatch reports award winners have produced $8.7 billion worth of added value to state government.

News Release: Florida TaxWatch

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Florida Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera joined Florida TaxWatch to announce the 2014 Prudential Productivity Award winners at the Florida Capitol on Thursday. The 26th annual awards honor 432 individuals and teams of state employees for creating and implementing innovative solutions and productivity improvements worth $558 million in cost savings, cost avoidances, and increased revenue for state government. Of the 432 award winners, 195 will receive cash or plaque awards during regional awards ceremonies later this summer.

"Florida is proud to use the Prudential Productivity Awards to recognize our employees with ingenuity who make the public sector more efficient for all Floridians," said Florida Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera. "Our state employees continue to provide innovative solutions that save Florida families' hard-earned money and make the Sunshine State a great place to live, work and build their dreams."

The Prudential Productivity Awards program recognizes and rewards hard-working state employees who create and implement innovative cost-saving and efficiency improvements. The program, founded and sponsored by the independent, nonprofit, government watchdog research institute, Florida TaxWatch, and co-sponsored by the State of Florida, has been honoring the state's public servants since 1988.

"The Prudential Productivity Awards is a nationally unique program that brings the private sector together to honor the most productive and innovative employees in Florida state government," said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO, Dominic M. Calabro. "Each of the award winners are commended for their commitment to reducing costs for Florida's hard-working taxpayers while dramatically improving the services that each Floridian depends on."

The program also strives to encourage state agencies to work together to replicate the savings across state government. Since 1989, thousands of individuals, teams, work units and partnerships have produced $8.7 billion worth of added value as a direct result of award winners' achievements and the replication of those achievements. Over the programs 26-year history, Florida TaxWatch has discovered more inter-agency cooperation and increased teamwork amongst award winners to bring savings to Floridians.

"Prudential is proud to support this innovative program that has inspired our state's best employees to apply private sector values to improve services and reduce costs for the taxpayers of Florida," said Mike Jennings, Vice President of Government Affairs for Prudential and former TaxWatch Chairman. "Prudential Productivity Award recipients have saved the state of Florida more than $8.7 billion over the program's 26-year history. That's $8.7 billion, or more than $457, back in the pockets of Florida's taxpayers, due to the commitment of these incredible public servants to work together to build a better Florida."

Recipients of 195 cash and plaque awards will be honored during the five statewide ceremonies beginning June 4th with an awards luncheon at the University Center Club at Florida State University in Tallahassee, followed by regional awards luncheons in Jacksonville, June 9; Orlando, June 10; Miami, June 11; and Tampa, June 13.

Some of the winners that will be recognized during this year's awards ceremonies include:

Department of Children and Families
This four-person K-9 team from the Florida State Hospital is voluntarily on call 365 days a year to respond to calls ranging from contraband detection to tracking missing vulnerable residents. The extra level of security provided by the dogs has allowed hospital security department salary costs to be decreased by 14%, leading to savings of nearly $1.9 million.

Department of Business and Professional Regulations
In the past, conventional mail delivery was used to notify Florida businesses and professionals of deficiencies in their applications, a procedure which took an average of 8 days. By implementing an email delivery program which provides instant notification this team was able to expedite the licensing process for more than 50-thousand professionals, ranging from realtors to cosmetologists. In addition to enhancing customer service, this achievement provides an estimated $46 million in added value annually to the private sector.

Department of Legal Affairs
Several thousand Florida consumers had been unknowingly paying into a roadside assistance plan as part of their cell phone plan. A legal settlement was reached, but Rebecca Woolever found thousands of consumers were being shortchanged and she was able to secure an additional $4.5 million in restitution.

Department of Economic Opportunity
This four-person team created an automated system to detect and prevent the fraudulent payment of Reemployment Assistance benefits. The Fraud Initiative Rules and Rating Engine (FIRRE), automatically screens all initial claims to identify suspicious activity. FIRRE is credited with a $4.3 million annual reduction in the amount of fraudulent benefits paid.

Agency for Health Care Administration
Because a scanning system was not reading decimal points on some Medicaid claims, quantities shown were 100 times more than the provider submitted, resulting in overpayments for certain drug claims. Besides discovering the overpayments, JoAnn Jackson used her knowledge as a pharmacist along with her communication and customer service skills in working with the provider to identify the cause of the problem. This resulted in the recovery of more than $1.6 million and the correction of the error in the scanning process which resulted in the overpayment, therefore avoiding future overpayments.

News Release: Florida TaxWatch

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida TaxWatch is pleased to announce the honorees for the 2014 Prudential Productivity Awards at a news conference in the Florida cabinet room on Thursday, April 3rd at 10:30 a.m. TaxWatch will join the program's sponsors and state dignitaries to announce the award recipients whose innovations and efficiency improvements saved state government more than $558 million in 2014. The Prudential Productivity Awards program recognizes and rewards hard-working state employees who create and implement innovative cost-saving and efficiency improvements. The program, founded and sponsored by the independent, nonprofit, government watchdog research institute, Florida TaxWatch, and co-sponsored by the State of Florida, has been honoring the state's public servants since 1988.

When: Thursday, April 3rd at 10:30 a.m
Who: Florida TaxWatch President Dominic M. Calabro; Mike Jennings, Prudential; Lottery Secretary Cynthia O'Connell; Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart; and invited Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

What: Announcement of 2014 Prudential Productivity Awards recipients.

Where: Florida Cabinet Meeting Room, Florida Capitol, Lower Level CONTACT: Morgan McCord , Communications Coordinator

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