Florida lawmakers seek to allow private investor funding of public social issues, including education
Two Florida lawmakers are looking to open Florida to a private funding model for social services that Utah has used to expand its prekindergarten programs.
Rep. Chris Sprowls and Sen. Aaron Bean have filed legislation (HB 1049/SB 1200) to create the "pay for success" system that led to major investment banks putting millions toward Utah's efforts to reduce special education needs for its youngest students. The outcomes-based program has received some criticism, but remains in play as several states look to replicate it. Read more from the NY Times.
At its core, the model removes government from paying for some social services that are identified as a "critical public problem with historically poor outcomes." Private not-for-profit firms could bid to provide up-front capital that would pay for projects aimed at solving the problems.
If the performance outcomes in the contract are met, the firms would receive payment from the government.
"This legislation uses private funding to solve social issues and allows for service providers to test alternatives to the status quo," Sprowls said in a written statement. "On top of that, it exposes taxpayers to zero risk while holding those private entities accountable for outcomes. Take risks and deliver. That's America and that's a new - better - government funding model."
He told the Gradebook that the bill provides for the mechanism only, and is not specifically tied to any service. But he noted that at least Utah had used it for education, and that could be one focus in Florida.
"It has been used in other places for things like criminal justice, which is where I see some uses for it," Sprowls said.