2017 Session - Week 8
This next to last week of the 2017 session began with a game of “Deal or No Deal” on the budget. It appeared there was a stalemate and harsh words were exchanged. The House Appropriations Committee passed a continuation budget as a fall back plan in case an agreement could not be reached. The Senate balked at that approach. The Speaker and President then began closed door meetings to try to hammer a basic compromise so a budget conference could begin.
Rumors of a deal began surfacing on Tuesday, along with contrary reports, and the specter of a special session rose. Finally, on Thursday morning leaders announce they had agreed on allocations and some major issues. Conference meetings began Thursday evening.
The budget is expected to be approximately $83 million, about halfway between the House and Senate proposals. Some of the major issues settled were the House will get the Speaker Corcoran’s priorities--Schools of Hope, lower school property taxes, and pension reform. The Senate would get President Negron’s priorities—the Lake Okeechobee reservoir, increased university spending and a state employee pay raise.
Spending for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida (EFI) will be reduced, but EFI will survive.
The conference subcommittees are scheduled to finish their work by noon on Saturday. Remaining issues will be bumped to the budget chairs and anything not agreed to by noon on Sunday will go to the Speaker and President. A conference agreement must be reached and the budget must be printed by Tuesday in order for the session to finish on time.
With no more regular committee meetings (except for a Senate Appropriations meeting on Monday), prospects for bills that have not already made it the floor are bleak.
For more information on these and other bills, please see below. And stay tuned for weekly updates all through the session.