House, Senate advance budget proposals amid ‘austere’ warning
a lot of money - a million US dollars in cash

a million bucks
'It is a recognition that revenues, while still climbing, are not climbing at the pace that they were climbing before.'

The heady times of state coffers being flush with money from soaring revenues boosted by inflation and federal infusions of COVID-19-era stimulus won’t last forever.

That was the message sent by the Legislature as the House and Senate advanced budgets that would spend between $1 billion and $1.5 billion less than the current spending plan.

“It is (House Speaker Paul Renner’s) goal and my goal to deliver an austere budget that puts us in a good position for three to five years down the road,” said House budget chief Tom Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican, while explaining the spending cut. “It is a recognition that revenues, while still climbing, are not climbing at the pace that they were climbing before.”

The House budget would spend $115.5 billion, or $1.5 billion less than the current budget, while the Senate plan would spend $116 billion, or $1 billion less than the current budget. Each budget (SB 2500, PCB APC 24-01) passed unanimously out of the chambers’ respective Appropriations Committees.

The chambers are close in some areas of the budget, such as pre-K-12 education, where the House prefers to spend $28.4 billion, while the Senate comes in about $100 million less.

The House and Senate plans both come out to about $8,937 per student, or $218 more than the current year. But each chamber handles the increase in funds differently, with the House setting aside $1.25 billion to hike teacher pay, an increase of $202 million on the current year, while the Senate puts more funding into the base funding for schools as a means of increasing teacher salaries.

In health care, one of the major sticking points is likely to be funding for the Live Healthy Act. That’s a top priority for Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, that has already passed the Senate. The bill includes $796 million to expand programs aimed at producing more medical professionals in the state to address health care worker needs.

Another flashpoint in negotiations is likely to be HB 5301, a House budget conforming bill that sends a strong message to privately operated hospitals in Pasco and Pinellas that they need to resolve a dispute over a voluntary tax program. To date, the hospitals in those counties have been unable to agree on a self-imposed tax that, once levied, generates the local funds necessary for them to participate in a new supplemental Medicaid funding program called Direct Provider Payment, or DPP.

As a way to force an agreement between the facilities, HB 5301 prevents hospitals that don’t participate in DPP from tapping into billions in two other Medicaid supplemental financing programs: Low Income Pool (LIP) and graduate medical education (GME). Combined, DPP, LIP and GME account for $5 billion in supplemental Medicaid payments made to Florida hospitals that provide care to the poor, elderly and disabled. The Senate does not have a similar proposal.

Each chamber is expected to pass their budget off the floor next week, setting the stage for formal negotiations for the final spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. An agreement must be reached by March 6 to meet the constitutionally required 72-hour “cooling off” period before lawmakers can vote on the budget to end the Regular Session on time.


Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Gray Rohrer

One comment

  • slb

    January 31, 2024 at 2:01 pm

    Looking forward to when Ronnie boy drills a twerp-sized hole in the ground.

Comments are closed.


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