House, Senate reach top line budget numbers, talks set to begin

Tallahassee, FL, USA - February 11, 2022: Florida State Capitol
Meetings are to start no earlier than 9 a.m. and no later than 9 p.m.

Leaders in the House and Senate have reached an agreement on the spending totals for each segment of the budget, paving the way for formal negotiations between the chambers to finalize the spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In total, it will include more than $48 billion in general revenue. The overall budget, though, will likely be in the $115 billion range, counting trust fund money and federal funding.

In a joint memo to members from House Speaker Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, budget conference meetings can begin starting at 5 p.m. Monday. Meetings, which require a one-hour notice, are to start no earlier than 9 a.m. and no later than 9 p.m.

From the outset of the 2024 Session, Renner has emphasized the need for a lean budget, since COVID-19-era federal stimulus funds are running out and revenue growth is slowing.

“As the timeline to spend pandemic funds is coming to end, we are making smart, fiscally-responsible adjustments and right-sizing our balanced budget to a level sustainable for the long term,” the memo states. “Instead of spending all we have, we are paying down debt, setting aside historic reserves, and providing for meaningful tax relief, so Floridians can keep more of their hard-earned money.”

Passidomo, meanwhile, has championed a set of bills to increase the state’s health care workforce, with incentives and other spending of more than $700 million in SB 7016, which has already passed both chambers and won’t be reflected in the main budget bill (HB 5001).

“Both Chambers made investments in the ‘Live Healthy’ initiative, designed to grow Florida’s health care workforce, and appropriated unprecedented per student funding for both our public schools and school choice options selected by Florida parents,” the memo states.

During the negotiations, each budget subcommittee will meet to hammer out differences in their sector of the spending plan. The memo states that any unresolved issues will be “bumped” to the full appropriations committees at the end of Wednesday, but that deadline is subject to change.

Lawmakers must reach a final deal by March 5 to meet the constitutionally required 72-hour “cooling off” period for the budget to be made public before a vote to end the Session on March 8, the last scheduled day of Session.

Gray Rohrer


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