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Dean Cannon: No to Medically Needy cuts? No to mandatory-minimums

In a rather blunt memo, House Speaker Dean Cannon reiterated his pledge to not raise taxes, to sock more money into savings and to resist cuts to the budget that he thinks don't work. Cannon suggested the House will once again raid the state's road-building fund to prioritize people over things. He also said K-12 spending will have a top priority, though the budget will still have across-the-board cuts, including reductions to state employee retirement benefits.

“We will not offer phantom cuts based on unproven efficiencies," Cannon wrote. "We will not risk our favorable bond ratings by producing a budget with inadequate reserves. Most importantly, we will not rake money out of the struggling Florida economy by increasing taxes or fees.”

Phantom cuts? It seems Cannon indirectly took issue with the Senate's healthcare budget by saying the "the House budget will not adopt strategies to control Medicaid spending that result in cost shifts toward the other aspects of our state-funded health care infrastructure, including driving uncompensated care into our public hospitals and emergency departments.”

Translation: That nearly $1 billion the Senate and Gov. Rick Scott want to save by cutting the so-called "Medically Needy" program for transplant patients. To House officials, the cuts probably won't pass federal muster and wouldn't save money anyway.

Cannon was none-too-pleased last year when the Senate wouldn't hear his Medicaid reform plan, and echoes of that displeasure were in his letter as well. “Because of the Legislature’s inability to enact comprehensive Medicaid reform, we continue to experience uncontrolled escalations in the caseloads and costs of this Federal entitlement program,” Cannon said.

Cannon also said no, essentially, to a Senate push to alter mandatory-minimum sentences by stating that the House wouldn't go along with changing "adult sentencing policies."

Letter here. Download Initial Budget Allocations Memo

Cannon also released draft budget allocations (Download Allocations 3-21-11. Here's how they compare with the Senate's draft plans (general revenue only):

Section Senate    House  Senate over House
Pek-12 9,809.90 8,204.50 1,605.40
Health 6,526.30 7,106.90 -580.60
Higher Ed 3,476.20 3,136.40 339.80
Justice 3,406.40 3,332.80 73.60
TED 336.10 269.6 66.50
Gov Ops 404.80 255.6 149.20
Ag-Environment ? 187.10 -187.10