This week House and Senate presiding officers settled on an overall budget figure of roughly $82.9 billion split into nine separate allocations. Friday morning five subcommittees met to trade offers—laid out in spreadsheets hundreds of rows long.
Explaining those offers can be pretty dry. But Friday morning Rep. Ben Albritton (R- Bartow), chair for the Environment and Natural Resources panel, took the unusual step of refusing to explain the House offer at all. Rep. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) objected, and apparently Senate chair Rob Bradley is listening. Friday evening the Fleming Island Republican boils down part of the Senate’s counteroffer.
“Generally it’s addressing citrus canker litigation and some Florida Community Trust issues that are a priority of theirs in exchange for them addressing our St. Johns River, Keystone Heights and Florida Keys concerns,” Bradley says.
In Health and Human Services, the House is offering to accept a Senate position that could mean $6.6 billion less for Medicaid. About $650 million of that would come out of hospital reimbursements. The subcommittee also seems ready to accept $27 million from the federal government to fight rising opioid abuse.
The group drafting spending proposals for Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development is dealing another blow to Governor Rick Scott’s spending priorities. Budgeters are offering a fraction of what he wants for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. But Rep. Clay Ingram (R-Pensacola) explains the House is finding common ground with the Senate on Department of Transportation issues.
“We had maybe $16 million in DOT projects; the Senate had in the neighborhood of $150 million,” Ingram says.
“I mean it took almost all day to get there," he says of the House's roughly $80 million counteroffer, "and so we were kind of in project hell for the last several hours, but I think we got to a good spot.
Talks resume Saturday morning.