Florida’s regular 60-day legislative session will end Friday with no budget agreement, ensuring that legislators will have to return next week or later to pass a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran told his House colleagues Tuesday night that they would have to stay later or come back in a special session.
“Everyone is all hands on deck trying to get it done,” Corcoran said, warning that Gov. Rick Scott would say, “Enough is enough. Come back and get your work done. Stop acting like juveniles.”
He said that under the best-case scenario, lawmakers would finish on Saturday. But Monday is more realistic, he said.
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The deadline for the session to end on time was Tuesday. Under Florida’s Constitution, a final budget must be available for a 72-hour cooling off period before a final vote by both houses.
Corcoran wouldn’t say what’s holding up the budget, but hundreds of millions of dollars in hospital funding is widely considered to be the problem.
$59 million is how much the Senate proposal would reduce Medicaid payments to Jackson Memorial Hospital
The House and Senate are fundamentally opposed on how to reimburse the state’s 200-plus hospitals for Medicaid
The Senate plan would benefit hospitals like the nearly 50 hospitals run by the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America.
But it take away money from major public hospitals like Miami’s Jackson Memorial and Broward Health, which currently receive the additional money. The two hospitals stand to lose $59 million and $17 million, respectively.
The House plan would preserve the current hospital funding model.
It’s the second consecutive year that the Legislature needed extra time to pass a budget, its only constitutional responsibility every session.
The budget deadlocked the day after each chamber blessed the other’s No. 1 priority. The Senate on Monday voted for House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s legislation to expand school choice, and the House passed Senate President Joe Negron’s legislation revamping higher education in Florida.
Most everything else seems to be ironed out, although some expensive question marks remain.
The state’s per-student public school funding — last year the state spent $8 billion on it — has been held up by the contentious gun bill, as hundreds of millions in funding for school security and mental health programs would be distributed based on the number of students each school has.
But state Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr., R-Hialeah, the House Education Committee chair, said although it hasn’t been announced, per-pupil funding is all but settled.
But both sides appear to be in agreement on teacher raises. The Senate originally wanted to pay $184 million in teacher salary increases, but eventually agreed to put that money into the Best and Brightest teacher bonuses instead, which are based on teachers’ professional assessments as well as their college test scores.
Universities’ budgets have also not been announced, but Negron, R-Stuart, said Monday that they would be getting a boost.
“I’m keeping my commitment to increase funding not only for base funding but in some of these other areas as well,” he said. Universities would also get bumps to the World Class Scholars program for recruiting top faculty and increases for business, medical and law schools.
The passage of SB 4 on Monday also ensured that the Legislature will significantly expand the award amounts and funding for merit-based Bright Futures college scholarships.