2016 Session - Week 3
January 25-29, 2016
House and Senate $1 Billion Apart on Budget
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees both passed their versions of the next state budget this week, with the Senate adopting multiple amendments (the House adopted one amendment to correct an error.) They will next be voted on by the full respective chambers before entering conference committees to negotiate the differences. .
The House spending plan totals $79.98 billion. This is $1.58 billion more than current spending and $730 million more than the Governor recommended. The Senate budget totals $80.97 billion, $1 billion more than the House.
There are many differences that must be resolved before a final budget agreement is reached. Some of the major differences are:
Taxes – The House Finance and Tax Committee has approved a “$1 billion” tax cut package. The impact to state revenue in the upcoming budget year is only $305.6 million, but much more in future years. The Senate has not released a complete tax package but its budget contemplates much less in tax cuts.
Trust Fund Sweeps – The House budget would take $402 million from trust funds to shore up available General Revenue, including $172 million from affordable housing and $79.5 million from economic development. The Senate budget sweeps $120 million (none from housing or economic development.)
PECO – The Senate provides $369 million for education fixed capital outlay, the House provides $474 million. The biggest difference is the House gives $90 million to charter schools, the Senate does not provide charters any PECO funding.
Economic Development Tools – The Governor recommended a $250 million fund to use to incentivize business to invest in Florida—in addition to $38 million in current economic development “tools.” The Senate provides $250 million, but that includes all tools. The House only provides $18 million.
Environmental Funding – The two chambers are about $200 million apart, with the House spending more on Everglades restoration and land acquisition and the Senate spending more on springs restoration.
Public School Funding - While the two chambers are close on per-student funding, how to pay for that (state revenue vs. local property taxes) may become an issue.
This week also saw several bills relating to Florida TaxWatch research priorities pass committees, including making the sales tax exemption for manufacturing machinery and equipment permanent, reducing the business rent tax, increasing funding for seaports, giving the Department of Transportation another funding tool, encouraging pre-arrest diversion programs, and expanding registered nurse and physician assistant scope of practice. Florida TaxWatch appeared before several committees this week, presenting our research on many of these issues.