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House passes budget meltdown safety valve

April 25th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

State lawmakers have until a week from today to come up with a final budget in order to avoid costly overtime, and until today, there has been little real discussion about the two billion dollar difference between the House and Senate.

The State House has been promoting its version of the budget ideas with an in-house video guide.

“The House will not raise taxes” chimes the video.

But the problem is that the Senate doesn’t like a lot of the ideas. Like this one:

“We also added twenty five thousand dollars to the homestead exemption.”

With no agreement in sight,  Tuesday began with a worst case scenario.

“The one thing we’re not going to do is kick the can down the road” says House Budget Chair Carlos Trujillo

The House Appropriations Committee passed last years budget minus money for members projects.

“Could we get a budget done in the next ten days? Possibly. But if we don’t, if we don’t, this is our safety valve” Trujillo told committee members.

Democrats on the Committee are up in arms. Minority Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa was downright angry.

“We all just need to grow up. we need to sit at a table together and we need to do what the citizens of Florida and the fricking taxpayers have asked us to come here to do” says Cruz.

With Two billion dollars separates the chambers, the Speaker and Senate President finally began meeting face to face. Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano remains optimistic.

“And so there’s continuing offers between the chambers, and we’ll take it from there” says galvano.

A decade ago, Special Sessions cost forty thousand dollars a day. Now there are new estimates from Cruz.

“It is seventy two thousand dollars a day.”

Q:”Is that the new number?”

“That’s my number.”

Q:”Okay, ho’d you come up with that?”

“Ah, we just tried to kinda figure out what lodging costs, what folks per diem is, and what it costs for staff.”

Passing a budget is the legislators only constitutional responsibility…but the constitutions says nothing about doing it on time.

Negotiations are occurring on two levels, total dollar amounts, and spending for policy items like charter schools, tax breaks, education funding and the environment, particularly building a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

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