Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) added an initiative to the Bipartisan Budget Act signed into law last Friday which will support Florida schools as they serve the needs of newcomers from Puerto Rico.
The Bipartisan Budget Act is the temporary funding bill which avoids another government shutdown. This bill gives Congress another six weeks to agree on a budget for the nation. The bill includes disaster relief for Puerto Rico, as well as California, Florida, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The bill divides $90 billion among these locations, including $2 billion to repair the electrical grid in Puerto Rico and $4.8 billion in Medicaid to completely cover the health care costs for uninsured, low-income people in Puerto Rico for the next two years.
These funds are sorely needed in Puerto Rico, where many people still do not have electricity or potable water.
Rep. Murphy’s initiative provides support for K-12 schools and colleges in the States which are stretching their resources to serve students displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
While this initiative will help other states and other evacuees, Murphy is particularly concerned about Florida’s need for more help to meet the needs of students arriving from Puerto Rico.
Florida has already enrolled more than 12,000 students from Puerto Rico — 3,400 in Orange County alone. The new funding provides the money needed to meet students’ special needs, beginning with $8,500 for each of the new K-12 students and adding more funding for additional needs.
These are the specific numbers:
- $8,500 for every displaced student
- $9,000 for those with limited English
- $10,000 for each student with disabilities
Murphy’s initiative also allows $75 million for colleges and universities to enroll displaced students. Some Florida universities have waived out-of-state tuition for evacuees, and these funds will help the colleges to cover these opportunity costs.
Murphy’s office announced that the Congresswoman added a provision to the bill which gives families in Puerto Rico equal coverage under the the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. This program works to reduce child poverty.
It is legal to treat Puerto Rico differently from the States in federal programs. This means that Puerto Rico receives less than it would if it were a state in a number of federal programs including Medicaid.