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Early Budgets Show Big Divides In Major Areas

March 22nd, 2019 by Jake Stofan

Over the last 24 hours the House and Senate spending plans were unveiled.

Governor Ron DeSantis released his more than a month ago.

While the three are fairly close on some big issues like the environment, other areas like education show big differences.

When the Governor unveiled his initial budget request earlier this year he asked for $625 million for the environment and water clean up.

“I think with the water, people want us to tackle it and so I’m serious about doing it and we’re going to get it done,” said DeSantis.

Now it’s looking like the Governor may get his way.

The House budget is $18 million short, but the Senate raised the Governor $25 million, proposing $650 million for the environment.

“There’s a lot of good stuff in there,” said Jonathan Webber with the Florida Conservation Voters.

But Webber says it’s not all good news.

He points out neither chamber honored the Governor’s request for $100 million for land acquisition.

“Protecting land is protecting water. So if you want to do a lot of ecological good in Florida, start protecting the most important lands,” said Webber.

While overall spending for the environment is close, education spending is far apart.

The Senate wants to raise the education budget by $1.1 billion.

The House is proposing $600 million.

“A step in the right direction, a small step with the Senate budget,” said Martin Powell with the Florida Education Association.

FEA, the state’s largest teachers union, is happy to see $600 million in flexible funds, that could be used for teacher pay raises, included in the Senate’s budget.

“I know there’s a negotiation to be had. I’m hopeful that the House comes up to the Senate, rather than the Senate coming down to the House,” said Powell.

Health care is another area the House and Senate are far apart. The Senate is proposing $543 million dollars than the House.

Hurricane Irma and Michael recovery makes the budget especially tight this year, which means lawmakers have a lot of work ahead of them if they’re to come to an agreement by May 3rd.

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