Bill Galvano: Budget talks possible over weekend
Senate President Bill Galvano. Image via Twitter.

bill galvano 3.27.19
Budget negotiations may be public soon.

The long wait for budget conferencing, and a potential deal between the House and Senate, may not be too much longer.

Senate President Bill Galvano told reporters Thursday that he expected budget conferencing to begin this weekend.

Galvano said he feels “good” about where the Senate and House are regarding the budget. House Speaker Jose Oliva likewise feels positive.

Members are to stay in town through the weekend, as the chambers attempt to work out the  $1.4 billion gap between the House and Senate proposals.

“We are moving into the end of this week … the Speaker and I have continued to communicate, negotiate. On an optimistic side, I’d tell members to be prepared to go into conference sometime this weekend,” Galvano said.

“Nothing’s certain,” he added.

Holding up the process are “big divides in the budget.”

Those include education where the Senate and House proposals differ on plans to implement teacher raises.

The Senate budget appropriates $500 million for teacher raises, along with $325 million in Base Student Allocation flexible spending, which districts can invest in teachers and school district personnel.

Meanwhile, the House proposal would “increase the minimum base salary for a full-time classroom teacher to an amount that is achievable by the school district’s portion of the $500 million; however, no school district is required to increase the minimum base salary to an amount that exceeds $50,000.”

“We’re working through it, we’re getting it together,” Galvano noted.

Another issue in play is the Seminole Compact, which is currently lapsed.

Galvano thinks “we can make progress.”

“In general, there are things of interest to them like the games they don’t have,” he said. “On our side, we want to see a revenue share and we want to get beyond the legal quagmire of the games, and the lawsuit, and the settlement.”

Oliva was more bearish on Wednesday, suggesting that a deal would not come together before Sine Die, though a Special Session could not be ruled out.

Speaker Oliva told media that policy issues were a sticking point. Galvano made it sound as if there could be movement on certain issues, including “independence” for nurses.

“We’ll get there with that,” the President vowed.

As well, “there are things that are very important to the Senate,” Galvano added, including VISIT FLORIDA and affordable housing funding.

There are some major gaps on that front, with the Senate proposing fully funding the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund with $387 million and $52.5 million for VISIT FLORIDA — two positions where the House diverges from the Senate, offering $144 million and zero dollars respectively.

“I think we’ll find a landing place,” Galvano said. “There are policy and budget issues on both sides of the equation.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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