Lawmakers return to Tallahassee on Monday, kicking off their 20 day special session in order to craft a state budget. Matt Galka tells us what they’ll be focusing on.
An abrupt end to Florida’s regular session at the end of April left lawmakers with plenty of unfinished business. Lawmakers are constitutionally required to craft a state budget and will return next week to do so during a special session.
“The Speaker and I both have said that we intend to get a budget done. I know there’s a lot of talk about a continuation budget and things like that but the dialogue we’ve had is that we’re going to get a budget done and we feel very strongly about that,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner on Wednesday.
A healthcare battle caused the budget breakdown. The Senate wants to expand Medicaid, the House doesn’t. But more than healthcare will be discussed over the scheduled 20 days. There are 32 bills on the table – like one allowing nurse practitioners to write prescriptions.
“It’s about allowing individuals who are trained to practice to the full extent of our training and medical care for Floridians who need it. It improves access and maintains and quality and can reduce costs,” said Robert Weissert with Florida TaxWatch.
Tax cuts being pushed by the Governor and environmental funding stemming from voter demand will also need to be figured out.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the environmental Amendment 1 but conservationists weren’t happy with dollar estimates during regular session
“The funding is a little light, we believe that both President Gardiner and Speaker Crisafulli are committed to getting Amendment 1 right in this first year and that means fully funding Florida Forever,” said Will Abberger with the Amendment 1 Coalition.
Time is of the essence for everyone looking for a slice of the budget pie. Lawmakers intend to have everything wrapped up by June 20th.
Both the Florida House and Senate convene starting at 1 p.m. on Monday. If lawmakers can’t reach a budget agreement before the current year’s budget expires on June 30th, then the state could be forced into a Government shutdown.
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