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After Dust-up, House and Senate Appear Ready To Deal on Budget

It appears talks regarding Florida’s budget have re-started with the House budget chief saying talks could begin as early as tonight. Earlier in the day the House’s budget committee voted to re-authorizing the current year’s spending plan with a few changes, after lawmakers appeared to be at a stand-still.

The burns just keep on coming.

“It would be a sad commentary on the legal profession if two lawyers couldn’t get their work done on time," Senate President Joe Negron told reporters last week.

His comments at the time pretty much foreshadowed the breakdown with House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the weekend.   Tuesday the House appropriations committee unveiled what it calls a continuation or “standard operating budget” with the unfortunate acronym of S.O.B.

“I think it’s the responsible thing to do. If we’ve reached an impasse—and it’s really a standard operating budget. It’s the same thing we voted on last year minus some member projects—I think what’s completely irresponsible is to not pass a budget and think ‘well, we can come back for a special session.’ That should never be the standard it should be the exception, and I think it’s becoming more the standard than it is the exception," said Committee Chairman Carlos Truillo, describing the measure as a "backup plan."

But Democrats, upset at the standstill, say that's not good enough. While the plan eliminates most member projects it would also provide greater funding for healthcare, higher education and Enterprise and Visit Florida than what the House is presently proposing. Cruz argues the situation isn’t fair to taxpayers, who she says have had their time wasted by lawmakers.

“We all just need to grow up. We need to sit at a table together and do what the citizens of Florida and the frickin’ taxpayers sent us here to do. And that’s take the money we’ve collected from them and pass a balanced budget.”

Yet its not all doom and gloom. Democrat Jared Moskowitz sees an opening for his party while simultaneously throwing shade at Republican’s inability to craft a budget.

"So listen, if my party can figure out how to take advantage of the dysfunction from Washington D.C. that’s now brought to Tallahassee, I think we should be excited.”

There are signs negotiations have restarted, with chamber leaders trying to strike deals on how to fund economic development agencies, the environment and education. Truillo says House and Senate leaders discussed the issues Monday evening, and late Tuesday he said negotiations could begin this evening.

A joint budget has to be presented to lawmakers by May 2nd if the legislature is to adjourn on time, which looks increasingly unlikely. 

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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