A few months before lawmakers began debating how best to fund after-school programs next year, one prominent South Florida businessman put a bug in Republican Gov. Rick Scott's ear to increase state funding for the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs.
In an email to Scott's office in early October -- obtained by the Herald/Times through a public records request -- auto dealer Rick Case asked Scott to recommend $20 million total next year for the state Boys & Girls Clubs, with $10 million each from the departments of Education and Juvenile Justice.
"I do have some community business that I need your help with leading into the 2016 Legislative Session in January," Case led his email, after noting how he was "looking forward" to seeing Scott at Case's daughter's upcoming wedding.
Case pointed out that the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs took a 50 percent cut in its state funding this year, which meant the Broward County Boys & Girls Club -- with which Case said he is "deeply involved" -- also lost almost half of its state aid received by way of the alliance.
"We are working hard here in Broward to make up that shortfall, but I really need you (sic) help to make our kids a priority in your budget submission this year," Case wrote.
He added: "You have to agree with me that there are few organizations that have an ROI (return on investment) like Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs in the State of Florida. Placing us in your budget will send a resounding signal for our efforts in every club working in their respective counties across the state."
It doesn't appear the plea had an effect on Scott, who recommended less funding for the alliance this year.
Scott's budget proposal kept education funding for the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs flat at $2.5 million for next year and recommended $600,000 in juvenile justice funding (down from $3 million this year).
Designated funding for after-school and mentoring programs are a point of contention in the Legislature's budget proposals for 2016-17.
The Senate wants to do away with line-item funding and replace it with a competitive grant program that more non-profit program providers can access. Senate education budget Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said that deciding which aftercare programs are funded by individual line items each year is “so much a function of lobbying" that he wanted a more fair process. More here.