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Rick Scott working on new 2015-16 spending plan, base budget

Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday that he’s working on a base, or continuation budget, for the upcoming year.

“I’m looking at Special Session, I’m looking at a base budget, I’m working on our own base budget because I want to make sure our state continues to operate after June 30.”

Florida law requires the governor to submit his proposed spending plan and submit copies of it to the Legislature, but the governor cannot appropriate or reduce budgets. That requires the Legislature or an arm of the Legislature known as the Legislative Budget Commission.

The governor is allowed to amend budget recommendations and is required to amend the proposed recommendations if the governor determines at any time that the revenue the initial proposed budget was based on are insufficient. Any changes also are required to be submitted to the Legislature.

Scott included in his proposed budget $2 billion in Low Income Pool funding even though it wasn’t authorized beyond this June 30. At the time feds made that announcement, Scott downplayed the notion that the LIP money wouldn’t be forthcoming.

The Legislature adjourned the 2015 Regular Legislative Session without passing the one bill it’s required to pass: the General Appropriations Act. The House of Representatives and the Senate were more than $4 billion apart in proposed spending plans, because the Senate included the continuation of the Low Income Pool money along with a proposed Medicaid expansion in its budget for the upcoming year. The House included no additional federal dollars in its budget.

Both the Medicaid expansion and the continuation of the Low Income Pool require federal government approval. Negotiations between the state and federal government broke down this spring and the federal government, and the feds didn’t provide Florida with an estimated dollar amount that it could expect to receive in federal LIP dollars. Without the figure legislators were unable to build a budget.

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