Tick Tock: Budget is on the desks

Florida State Capitol Building

The Legislature  can pass the budget at 5:37 p.m. Friday and call it quits.

After meeting late into Monday night and adding $300 million more in spending, the General Appropriations Act was electronically furnished to the Legislature, governor and Cabinet at 5:37 p.m. Tuesday. The Florida Constitution requires the Legislature to wait 72 hours before passing the General Appropriations Act and calling the session at an end.

The near $78.7 billion spending plan is nearly $29 billion in state funds and another near $49.6 billion in federal dollars. More than 113,000 state employee positions are funded throughout the various agencies.

The House is going to discuss and debate the budget and various associated bills on Thursday when it convenes. Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said Senate President Andy Gardiner won’t decide until Wednesday what course of action to take when the Senate meets in session Thursday.

In a statement issued to the media, meanwhile, Senate chief budget writer Sen. Tom Lee said the biggest obstacle to crafting the 2015-16 budget was addressing a $1 billion loss of federal Low Income Pool funding. Lee warned that the loss of federal funding is a recurring issue for the state, and that Florida will lose another $400 million in federal Medicaid funding.

“Despite this setback, we worked diligently to present a final product that allocates an unprecedented level of funding for Florida’s K-12 education system, reduces the tax burden on Florida families and businesses by $400 million, and sets aside nearly $3 billion in reserves,” he said.

Gardiner did not tout the health care portion of the budget in his released remarks. Instead, he  brought attention to increased per student funding, and water and conservation programs including $55 million in land acquisitions, $50 million for springs, and $81.8 million in Everglades restoration.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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