Senate proposes stripping name, funding from BIDEN inflation fund

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The Republican-led Legislature could pass a bill that blames inflation on President Joe Biden.

The Senate wants to spoil House budget chief Jay Trumbull‘s fun with an amendment that would rename the proposed “BIDEN” inflation fund.

The House voted 90-26 earlier this month to create the Budgeting for Inflation that Drives Elevated Needs Fund (HB 5011) to cover increased costs for state contracts due to the current high level of inflation. The fund, which House Appropriations Committee Chair Trumbull has said he named, generally received support from several Democrats in the House despite some calling out the petty politics to pin the high inflation rate on President Joe Biden.

In addition to stripping the name down to the “Inflation Fund,” the Senate Appropriations Committee voted Monday to move forward with a substantive change to the measure, an amendment raised by St. Augustine Republican Sen. Travis Hutson.

The House proposed the state immediately stock the fund with $2 billion, but the Senate panel’s version would instead ask lawmakers to fill the fund during the appropriations or budget amending process.

“We could come up with a number, or we could not,” Hutson said. “But we are setting up a trust fund to deal with these future costs.”

The United States saw a 40-year high level of inflation, with prices jumping 7.3% in the last 12 months.

“We are seeing, obviously, inflation going on nationally and within our state,” Hutson said. “We have contracts that are subject to an appropriation that were not contingent on some of the inflation we are seeing.”

The Senate version still contains language blaming inflation on “unwieldy federal spending during the COVID-19 pandemic.” House Democrats have rebuked that characterization, arguing the pandemic has caused inflation worldwide.

As inflation remains high, Republicans are likely to continue to bash Biden and Democrats over the issue. A CBS News poll in January found 65% of respondents didn’t think Biden was focused enough on stemming inflation, and 58% said he wasn’t focused on the economy.

Negotiations over the funding plan, including its name, will come down to this year’s budget conference, which begins this week. The Legislature has until March 11 to pass a budget.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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