Budget Conferencing Subcommittees Conclude Meetings

The Florida Legislature has worked tirelessly over the past 6 days to construct the Florida budget. Budget conferencing began on Saturday after allocations were released. The process began with conference subcommittees, made up of members from both chambers, meeting to begin dividing up the allocations in their specific budget category. The goal of the conference subcommittees was to reach agreements on as many budget issues as they could. Any issues the chambers could not agree upon were bumped to the Conference Committee At Large, where Chairmen Tom Lee and Richard Corcoran will handle the final negotiations. Last night Chairs Lee and Corcoran met to finalize the Agriculture & Natural Resources, General Government and Health & Human Services bump issues. Chair Corcoran presented House offers on Health Care budget spreadsheet items, proviso language, and language on the Medicaid conforming bill, and Chair Lee presented Senate offers relating to Health Care for Medicaid Hospital Funding Programs (LIP) and for Agriculture & Natural Resources budget spreadsheet items and language on proviso & implementing bill. Both Chambers accepted the offers entirely.

Once the Conference Committee At Large has finished all negotiations, the budget agreements will be filed as the Conference Committee Report. There is a 72-hour window for public viewing before the adoption of the report by both chambers. Each chamber then adopts the report, and votes on the final version of the budget. Then Governor Scott signs the budget with the option to use a line-item veto, which allows him to cancel specific appropriations. A two-thirds majority vote is needed to overturn any veto.

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Tax Cut Package

In their final meeting of the 2016 Legislative Session, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a modified version of the House’s HB 7099 tax cut plan. The legislation promises about $129 million in tax relief, despite Governor Rick Scott’s request for over $1 billion in tax cuts. The package scales back Florida’s back to school sales-tax holiday from 10 days in August to three. It also permanently extends the sales tax exemption on manufacturing equipment, and reduces local property taxes by using only state tax dollars to pay for a $478 million increase in education funding.

Click here to read more.