House and Senate approve initial budgets

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 4:44 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS/WCJB) - The Florida House and Senate have now passed their budgets and are ready to begin negotiations on a final product, but everything they’ve approved is subject to change.

The Senate and House are two billion dollars apart on their state spending plans.

The House’s spending plan clocks in at $97 billion, with the Senate at $95 billion.

Both are short of the Governor’s proposed budget, which with stimulus money is just shy of $100 billion.

Neither party is happy with some of the decisions so far.

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“This is a starting point. We still have a very long road to go,” said House Budget Chair Rep. Jay Trumbull.

Cuts to hospitals drove the most ire.

“Cuts to hospitals, safety-net hospitals, during a once in a lifetime pandemic makes no sense,” said Rep Carlos Guillermo Smith.

As did a 50 percent cut to the affordable housing trust fund in the House plan.

“We have an affordable housing crisis throughout the entire state,” said Rep. Dotie Joseph.

However, there is money on the table to sure up holes.

The Senate’s budget not only leaves out $2 billion in extra state revenue identified Tuesday, the chamber still hasn’t factored in the expected $10 billion in federal stimulus.

Democrats want the money to go directly to Floridans.

“Things like a small business relief system or money to the pockets of our essential workers,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani.

The House on the other hand has allocated the federal dollars, but it’s mostly spent on one time expenses and beefing the state’s reserves.

“This is a balanced budget that reflects our beliefs that our state should not spend more than it takes in. We have an obligation to prepare for Florida’s future,” said Trumbull.

With the Senate discussing a similar approach, House Speaker Chris Sprowls is optimistic going into negotiations.

“You know I kind of like how we’re lined up with the Senate. I think that the differences are really not that stark,” said Sprowls.

The two chambers have three weeks to come to a final agreement, if they hope to end session on time.

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