FL Legislators Advance Bills Expanding Access to Education for Children

Lawmakers Advance Two Bills That Will Give Parents More Options to Quality Education for Their Children

On February 25, the Florida Legislature voted to advance legislation to give students greater access to high-quality education by passing SB 1220 and HB 7067 out of their committees. These bills, sponsored by Senator Manny Diaz and Representative Jennifer Sullivan respectively, expand and reinforce the K-12 educational opportunities for parents to choose the best school for their child regardless of zip-code or household income limitations.

HB 7067 Will:

• Increase the maximum income level threshold by 25% when more than 5% of total available Family Empowerment Scholarships have not been awarded,

• Authorize a student with a disability who meets the Gardiner Scholarship Program (GSP) eligibility requirements, but who turns 3 years of age after September 1, to be determined eligible for a GSP on or after his or her third birthday and awarded a scholarship if funds are available,

• Provide that a student who receives a Florida Tax Credit scholarship remains eligible to participate until the student enrolls in a public school, graduates from high school or reaches 21 years of age, and

• Require reviewing a school bullying prevention education program, climate, and code of student conduct of each public school from which ten or more students transferred to another public or private school using the Hope Scholarship Program in a single academic year.

SB 1220 Will:

• Expand the Florida Empowerment Scholarship eligibility to a student who received a FTC scholarship in the prior year and was in a public school the year prior to initial receipt of the FTC scholarship.

The Senate education bill, SB 1220, has one final committee stop before being ready to hit the Senate floor for a full vote. Yesterday’s House Appropriations Committee was the final stop for HB 7067 and it is ready to head to the House floor.

Register to Attend…

Register today for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2020 Learners to Earners Workforce Summit taking place in Orlando on June 16 and take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear from and network with business and industry leaders looking for talent and education leaders tasked with ensuring Florida’s students are ready for the future of work.

Closing Florida’s Talent Gap by Improving Educational Opportunities


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Why It Matters to Florida

From local businesses to major corporations, a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators. To secure Florida’s future, employers need talent that is prepared to enter the workforce. Florida wins when we close the gap by putting students ahead of special interests. The Florida Chamber will continue to champion the best education system for Florida.

The Florida Chamber’s focus includes:

  •  Preparing Students for Success
  • Innovation and Outcomes Are Essential
  • Quality School Choice Matters
  • Improving Attainment and Access to Higher Education
  • Preparing Florida’s Workforce to Address Florida’s Skills Gap

Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda

  • Preparing Students for Success
    Ensuring a talented workforce for tomorrow begins with empowering our youngest learners today. Preparing children to learn provides a foundation for future successes and helps them develop skills such as self-discipline, persistence and cooperation-skills that re essential to their future success in the workforce.
  • Innovation and Outcomes Are Essential
    The Florida Chamber understands the importance of STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, Medicine) education in schools. We will continue to support a focus on STEMM concepts throughout Florida’s education system in order to ensure that Florida’s students become and remain globally competitive.
  • Quality School Choice Matters
    At the Florida Chamber we recognize that education is not a one-size-fits-all option. We continue to advocate for parents to have the freedom to choose the best learning environment for their children .
  • Preparing Florida’s Workforce to Address Florida’s Skills Gap
    Advocating for increased attainment and making college more affordable is a top priority for the Florida Chamber. In addition to adequately preparing Florida’s students to enter the workforce, we must also focus on attracting and retaining world class talent.
  • Improving Attainment and Access to Higher Education
    In order for Florida to remain one of the top business climates in the nation, we must increase educational opportunities in both higher education and in the 21st century vocational trades.

The Fight for Free Enterprise Continues

We believe that a quality education and workforce development system is the best way to enable Floridians to compete in a 21st century global economy. Be a part of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Business Alliance for Early Learning and help us invest in the future of Florida’s students.


Series on Free Enterprise: Step Up For Students


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A talented workforce is Florida’s best long-term economic strategy. In the most recent Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise, we sat down with Doug Tuthill, President of Step Up For Students to discuss the organization’s scholarship efforts, as well as the need for more flexible education options to ensure all students succeed.

“We’re excited about how things are going,” said Tuthill. “The future of public education is really customization and for too long, 150 plus years, we’ve had a one-size-fits all system.”

Click below to listen to the full podcast.




Help Turn Today’s Learners Into Tomorrow’s Earners

  1. Sign up for the Florida Chamber’s Business Alliance for Early Learning to help secure Florida’s future through quality early education.
  2. Hear from Florida’s new Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran during the Florida Chamber’s annual Legislative Fly-In.
  3. Check out the Florida Chamber Foundations Florida 2030 report which outlines key targets and strategies to help plan for Florida’s future, today.

Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise: Amendment Two


Constitutional Amendments     2018 Election Center


Robert Weissert of Florida TaxWatch: “Amendment 2 is Important for Everyone”

In the latest edition of the Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise, Robert Weissert, Executive Vice President of Florida TaxWatch, discusses Amendment 2 and its impact on all Floridians.

“It would be a major concern if this goes down because it’s the only protection in the constitution for non-homesteaded property, so we would see significant iniquity in the property tax system but more importantly we would see negative effects on Florida’s economy,” said Weissert.

Click Below to Listen to Robert Weissert.




Vote “YES ON 2” This November

If Amendment 2 passes it will not only help Florida’s families and job creators but aid Florida’s economy.  Learn more about Amendment 2 here or get involved at www.Everybodyisfor2.com.


Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise: Featuring Kevin Hyde, Foley & Lardner LLP


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In the latest edition of the Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise, Kevin Hyde, Partner, Foley & Lardner LLP and interim president of Florida State College at Jacksonville, discusses workforce issues, including generational changes, the importance of skills development and training, and changes in workplace expectations.

“What we are seeing is an evolution of the types of skills that are needed within a community and how we as a state college and other training providers, provide those skills,” said Hyde. “Truly the way that people work is changing and that’s why the need for skills training is so important.”

Click Below to Listen to Kevin Hyde


What Will Talent Supply & Education Look Like in 2030?

Be sure to catch Kevin Hyde, Partner, Foley & Lardner LLP and interim president of Florida State College at Jacksonville, at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Florida Forum, September 26, 2018, as we discuss the future of talent and workforce in Florida.

GrayRobinson’s Kim McDougal Featured on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line


Florida 2030: Talent Supply & Education Recommendations     Learn More About Education



GrayRobinson’s Kim McDougal discusses K-12 education funding, college affordability and school choice on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

Closing Florida’s skills gap by improving educational opportunities is essential to providing Floridians with jobs that allow them to succeed.

“The Florida Chamber has done a great job with businesses, you have the LaunchMyCareerFL.org for the students to make sure every student knows, ‘If I pursue this degree, these are the types of jobs and wages those jobs pay,’” said McDOUGAL.

In an ever changing world, McDougal also notes that it’s just as vital to ensure the existing workforce has the skills they need, just as it’s important to ensure students are prepared to earn when they graduate.


Workforce is Changing – Florida Must Be Ready

According to research found in the Florida Chamber Foundation’s newly released Florida 2030 recommendations on Talent Supply & Education, the future of work is changing and Florida has both challenges and opportunities on the horizon. Click here to learn more.

Talent is Florida’s Best Economic Currency

Each month, I have the honor of being able to travel across Florida and meet with business leaders who are working hard to create jobs and economic opportunity for Floridians. Across the board, businesses tell me that the biggest issue keeping them up at night is having a talented workforce that will allow them to continue to create jobs and grow in the future. If we look at the jobs in Florida today there are 242,500 open jobs. Said differently, there are 242,500 jobs today looking for people. On the other side we have 391,000 people looking to fill those vacant jobs.


Earlier this month, the Florida Chamber Foundation held their annual Learners to Earners Workforce Summit, where they took a deep dive into how Florida can prepare for the future of work. And these conversations, which centered around building a workforce, are far reaching in scope — we can’t talk about a talented workforce without talking about prosperity, we can’t talk about investments in early learning without talking about Florida’s business climate and, perhaps most importantly, we can’t have any discussions on the challenges and opportunities Florida’s cradle to career continuum faces unless we have them together and work toward one goal.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam at the Learners to Earners Workforce Summit


“What are the things we have to do to diversify our economy and truly become the launch pad for the American dream? First, I think we have to recognize that the diversity of our state is a strength,” Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said. “We need to recognize the successes when they are there. Not enough people know we have the number one state college system in America. There are not enough people who recognize that what they are getting for their families is a world class education.”


When it comes to economic development, talent has already replaced the tax incentive as the number one most important tool in an economic developer’s toolkit. If you don’t believe that, just look at California or Seattle and ask yourself- why would a business add jobs there? Despite their undesirable tax environment and regulatory climate, if that’s where the talent is, talent wins.

Today, if you ask a junior or senior in university or in any of our colleges, they’ll give you a place where they want to live and will bring their skills with them. If Florida can be the best place in the hemisphere in attracting and retaining high-skilled talent, families are going to want to stay here and move here, and businesses would never think of moving anywhere else.

However, in order for Florida to continue to grow we must acknowledge that Florida is changing. Our economics, our demographics and our politics are all changing and these changes are both opportunities and challenges.

What Florida has, is an opportunity to move forward. If we get early learning right, K-12 right, career training right, and lifelong learning right, we won’t have a skills gap in the future. I want to challenge the business community to do a better job communicating to the talent generators what we will need in the future. That might not mean a degree; that may mean a certification or more apprenticeship programs. I want us all to double down on the issue of how important talent is.

To help Florida move in the right direction, it’s vital that we look at what the data shows us. The Florida Chamber Foundation’s first Cornerstone Report in 1989 showed Florida ranked almost dead last in many K-12 metrics- just barely above Mississippi. Fast forward 20 years later and we are now in the top quartile for educational outcomes. We have come a long way with the help of our dedicated partners, a business community that is focused on outcomes and state leadership who is committed to excellence, however, we still have a long way to go. While Florida may be a leader in the United States in education initiatives, the real problem is that the U.S. is rapidly falling in comparison to other countries.

By 2030 Florida will have 5.7 million more people, 3 million new drivers on our roads, 50 million more visitors each year and will need to create at least 1.7 million new jobs over and above what we have right now. There is some great work being done in Florida but at the same time, Florida still has more than 1 million children living in poverty. And while job growth is increasing, Florida will lose more than 1 million jobs due to autonomation.

We Can’t Improve Without the Help of Florida’s Business Community

At the 2018 Learners to Earners Workforce Summit, we released the in-depth recommendations on Talent Supply & Education from our Florida 2030 research. These recommendations show where Florida is, where we need to be and more importantly, how we can work together to get there. I encourage you to take a look and provide your comments and thoughts.

Register today for the annual Future of Florida Forum where we will continue the conversation and release the full Florida 2030 report.

What Others Are Saying

The Tampa Bay Time’s Graham Brink wrote: Florida is in a must-win fight for talented workers. See the Florida Trend’s article about strategic thinking about Florida’s future. Check out the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s:  Early childhood learning dominates Tampa business summit.


Thank you to the Florida Chamber Foundation Board of Trustees, for your 50 years of providing leadership in Florida, and to the many partners and businesses who continue to make sure that the right things happen in Florida.

Harris Rosen’s Challenge to Business Leaders


Join the Prosperity Initiative      Attend the Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity & Economic Opportunity

“My dream is that every under-served community in the United States of America would have a Tangelo Park program. And when that happens- we won’t recognize America.”

Lawmakers Vote to Improve Educational Opportunities

Sweeping education reforms that span cradle to career were just passed by the Florida Legislature.

In the area of Higher Education, SB 4 would expand the Bright Futures Scholarship and further cement Florida’s World Class State Universities.

This year’s K-12 omnibus bill, HB 7055, continues Florida’s school choice legacy by passing several student-centered policies.

From local business to major corporations, a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators. Florida wins when we close the gap by putting students ahead of special interests.


Legislative Session Coming to a Close

The 2018 Legislative Session is scheduled to end Friday, March 9. The Florida Chamber of Commerce is your number one resource for what passed, what didn’t, and what needs more work. Be on the lookout for the Florida Chamber’s end of session news brief.

Good Jobs for All Means Investing in Florida’s Workforce Colleges

Mark Wilson, Guest Columnist, Pensacola News Journal

As the president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, my job is to listen to the concerns and needs of Florida employers and then share them with legislators and our governor. One of the biggest concerns I hear is that employers have jobs to fill, yet they cannot find all the talent they need.

Quarter after quarter, results from the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Index Survey show finding qualified employees as the top priority for employers across Florida. Right now, right here in Florida, despite a near record low unemployment, we have 261,600 jobs looking for people, and 374,000 people looking for jobs.

Workforce colleges are part of the solution to closing the skills gap, and Floridians need the legislature to follow Governor Scott’s lead and fully invest in the Florida College System.

To help close the gap, higher education institutions and workforce colleges are converting learners into earners. Florida’s universities, research institutions and career academies are preparing students with higher education for the workforce of tomorrow. Meanwhile, workforce colleges are training students – many of whom are economically disadvantaged, working adults and first-generation-in college students – with skills that match Florida jobs.Between now and 2030, two million more jobs will be needed in Florida. In fact, by 2030, 60 percent of jobs will require a post-secondary degree or advanced training.

And innovation and disruptive technologies are increasing the need for stronger skills. Many of these new jobs will require a shift in the skills and competencies of Florida’s workforce.

Simply put, talent is quickly replacing the tax incentive as Florida’s best economic development tool. But with lawmakers threatening to limit access to Florida’s workforce colleges and to cut funding that helps best match student interests with the right job skill training, you might not think improving educational opportunities in Florida is a priority of everyone in the Florida Legislature.

Job creators need our state legislature to put the long-term needs of Florida ahead of short-term fixes, and properly invest in Florida’s College System. Florida’s 28 workforce colleges develop and expand programs and certifications that directly speak to the workforce employment gaps in their region and produce the training and skills necessary to fill the voids.

Limiting investments and placing arbitrary caps on the number of students who can enroll in a workforce college will stifle a region’s ability to grow its labor force and prevent it from being a viable option for companies to relocate and call Florida home.

Florida should continue to strategically align the higher education systems to prepare for Florida’s future growth. By empowering Florida’s workforce colleges to foster innovative programs and certifications for targeted skills development, we can ensure the workforce pipeline will remain strong.

If you’re reading this and you want your kids and grandkids to live and work in Florida, please call your state legislator and ask them to do the right thing and fully fund Florida’s workforce colleges.

Mark Wilson is the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at mwilson@flchamber.com.

Florida Chamber Joins Broad Coalition in Urging Florida House to Support HB 1213


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To: Members of the Florida House

On behalf of our broad coalition of education, business and industry groups, we are writing in strong support of HB 1213 (Porter), a bill that will expand access to computer science in Florida public schools and help prepare Florida students for the 21st century workforce.

Computing is a foundational skill for K-12 students. It develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and teaches them how to create — not just use — new technologies. These skills will benefit students in every subject, in the classroom and beyond.

In Florida and across the country, computer science is driving job growth and innovation. Computer science skills are in high demand in the job market; in fact, more than half of projected jobs in STEM fields are in computing occupations, and computer science is one of the most desirable degrees for new college graduates. According to the Conference Board, there are approximately 22,365 open computing jobs in the State of Florida, and demand for these jobs is growing at 3.6 times the state average.

HB 1213 will better prepare Florida students for these high paying, in-demand careers by phasing in a reasonable requirement that high schools offer computer science courses and providing professional development for computer science teachers.

Please join us in supporting HB 1213 to ensure Florida students have educational opportunities that prepare them for a successful future in a competitive, global workforce. Thank you for your consideration, and please consider our organizations as a resource as you deliberate this bill.


College Board
Florida Chamber of Commerce
Project Lead the Way

Florida Chamber Urges Senate Committee to Support SB 1056


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To: Senate Education Committee

The Florida Chamber of Commerce urges you to support DE amendment #233566 to SB 1056. This bill, which is sponsored by Senator Kathleen Passidomo, will be heard Tuesday, January 16th, in the Senate Education Committee.

The Florida Chamber supports legislation that allows Florida to continue to attract high wage jobs and keep high-skilled talent in our state. Providing opportunities for STEM involvement at earlier levels of learning will give Florida’s students the best chance at being competitive. The Florida Chamber believes greater STEM opportunities and initiatives will help to position Florida as a leader in high-tech, high-wage job creation. This legislation is important to Florida’s business community because this bill:

  • Promotes opportunities for public middle and high school students to learn computer science taught by qualified teachers.

    The Florida Chamber urges you to support DE amendment #233566 to SB 1056, and will consider votes on this legislation, and any substantive amendments to it in committee or on the floor, in our annual How They Voted report card. The grade that you earn will be based on your voting record on the issues. We will make every effort to notify you prior to a vote that may be included in our annual legislative report card. If you have any questions about this or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Frank C. Walker, III
Vice President of Government Affairs

Overall Voters Feeling Good About Florida’s Direction, But Undecided In 2018 Governor’s Race

TALLAHASSEE, FL (January 11, 2018) – A majority of Florida voters believe Florida is headed in the right direction, according to the latest statewide political poll released by the Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI).

In its first statewide poll of the New Year, 56 percent of likely voters believe Florida is headed in the right direction. Although the majority of voters approve of Florida’s direction, the views differ based on party. Republicans are especially optimistic at 76 percent, more than half of NPA’s (56 percent) believe Florida is moving in the right direction, while less than half of Democrats (34 percent) believe Florida is headed in the right direction.

More than half (57 percent) of all registered voters approve of Governor Rick Scott’s job performance. Among parties, Republicans overwhelmingly approve of his performance by 82 percent, while 30 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of NPA’s approve.

Ten months before electing a new Governor, voters from both parties are beginning to consider which candidates they will support, although there are more undecided than decided candidates.

Among candidates on the Democrat ticket, Gwen Graham leads with 14 percent, however 64 percent of voters remain undecided. Philip Levine garners 7 percent, Andrew Gillum garners 6 percent and Chris King garners 1 percent.

On the Republican ticket for candidates, 23 percent support Adam Putnam and 18 percent support Ron DeSantis, while 50 percent are undecided.


“Voters will elect a new Governor, all new members of the Florida Cabinet and 140 members to the Florida House and Senate. It’s still very early in what will be a busy 2018 election cycle. In the coming months, voters will begin to take a much closer look at the candidates for office,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President, Political Operations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.


On the issues that matter to voters, education tops the list at 17 percent, followed by jobs and the economy at 13 percent and healthcare at 12 percent. Immigration and global warming remain a concern – garnering 5 percentage points each. While issues like guns, terrorism and marijuana barely register among voters.

When considering constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot, Amendment 1 would pass if voted on today, while Amendment 2 is inching closer to the 60 percent threshold for passage.

Amendment 1 calls for increasing the homestead exemption:

  • 61 percent of voters support increasing the homestead exemption for homeowners.
  • 69 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of NPA’s and 52 percent of Democrats support increasing the homestead exemption for homeowners.

Amendment 2 would make a 10 percent cap on annual non-homestead property tax increases permanent:

  • 54 percent of likely voters support making the 10 percent cap on annual non-homesteaded property tax permanent.
  • 58 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of NPA’s and 50 percent of Democrats support making the 10 percent cap on annual non-homesteaded property tax permanent.

Beyond the Florid Chamber’s political polling, voter registration indicates interesting trends:

  • 42 percent of all new voters registered since January 1, 2018 are registering as NPA’s
    • 27 percent are registering as Democrats
    • 27 percent are registering as Republicans
  • 54 percent of new Hispanic voters are registering as NPA’s
    • 32 percent are registering as Democrats
    • 14 percent are registering as Republicans


ABOUT THIS POLL:  The Florida Chamber of Commerce political poll was conducted on January 2-5, 2018 by Voter Opinions during live telephone interviews of likely voters, and has a margin of error of +/-4 percent. The sample size included 235 Democrats, 259 Republicans and 106 Others for a total of 600 respondents statewide. The samples for the polls conducted by the Florida Chamber are consistently drawn from likely voters and newly registered voters, meaning those voters who have the propensity and past performance of voting in elections, rather than simply including registered voters.  Voters are again screened for likelihood of voting.





The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.



Florida Chamber Outlines Education Priorities in Legislative Agenda

Did you know that there are 221,000 jobs looking for people, and 383,000 people looking for jobs? Employers need talent that is prepared to enter the workforce and Florida wins when we close the talent gap. That talent is cultivated through education.

The Orlando Business Journal wrote that building a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce recently released its 2018 Jobs and Competitiveness Agenda. The agenda calls for the business community to redouble efforts on workforce education and expand pathways to Florida’s attainment goals, amongst other calls to action. A complete listing of the Jobs Agenda is available at: www.FloridaChamber.com/WhereWeStand.

Did You Know Today’s Kindergarteners Will be Graduating in 2030?

Be the first to know when registration opens for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2018 Learners to Earners Summit. For more information, contact Kelsey Smith at 850-521-1276 or via email at ksmith@flfoundation.org.

Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Provides Look at Future of Florida’s Workforce


Read Testimony   Read the Report: Florida Jobs 2030    The Florida Scorecard


This morning, Dr. Jerry Parrish joined the Florida House Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee to discuss the future of Florida’s workforce and the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent report- Florida Jobs 2030. Click here to read Dr. Jerry Parrish’s full testimony.

What does the future of Florida’s talent, workforce and skills look like?

By 2030, Florida will add six million more residents and will need to create 2 million net new jobs. At the same time, rapid innovation technology will drive increased automation, globalization, digitization, and advances in machine learning in the next decade and a half.

While these shifts are already well underway, by 2030 these and other disruptive technologies will lead to the development of new jobs and a shift in the skills and competencies required for existing jobs within the state’s economy. Though many of the jobs Floridians will hold in 2030 have not yet emerged, Florida has a strategic opportunity to prepare for these shifts by leveraging its many assets and changing demographics to make decisions that will have generational benefits and create economic opportunity for millions of Floridians.

Read the Report and Share Your Thoughts

Florida Jobs 2030 is an analysis of the state’s 21st-century jobs. This analysis draws on labor market research and qualitative interviews with more than 90 stakeholders from Florida’s business, education, nonprofit, and workforce communities to examine these 21st-century jobs, the skills required to perform them, and anticipated gaps in the labor market. Click here to read the report and tell us your thoughts on where Florida’s workforce future is headed.

Learn More

During the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2017 Future of Florida Forum, education, workforce and economic development leaders dedicated an entire morning to discussing how Florida can be ready for the future of workforce. During that event, the Florida Chamber Foundation also unveiled Florida’s newest education website, Launch My Career Florida.

A talented workforce is Florida’s best long-term economic strategy, and businesses around the state agree that talent is quickly replacing the tax incentive as the economic tool of choice. There are several ways you can continue the conversation: