Senate wants to expand session, restore $100 million in cuts to hospitals and override university vetoes
The Florida Senate is urging the House restore $100 million of the $200 million in cuts to hospitals, revise the K-12 proposal the House has drafted and override the veto of millions in cuts to university budgets.
In a memo issued by Senate President Joe Negron on Tuesday, Senate leaders said they are drafting legislation to restore some of the cuts agreed to with the House when they crafted the final $83 billion budget. Download MEMO re Legislation for 2017 Special Session A 2017 06 06
Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala is filing legislation to add $215 million to the FEFP student funding formula, using $72 million in state funds ($66 million recurring; $6 million non-recurring) and $143 million RLE increase (new construction only), the memo said.
Latvala will also produce a Senate version of the economic development bill that "will include a requirement that DEO return to the state funds (approximately $107 million) held in escrow outside the state treasury to the SEED Trust Fund, which has been a bipartisan priority of the Senate for many years."
Sen. Anitere Flores is filing legislation to restore $100 million to Florida’s hospitals which were cut $200 million in the original budget.
The cuts leave hospitals short more than $500 million because of the loss of federal Medicaid matching money. By restoring $100 million, hospitals could get about another $250 million in subsidized payments.
"There was an acknowledgement that the Legislature and the governor didn't quite get the budget right,'' said Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, the Senate chair of the health appropriations committee, who will sponsor the legislation. "We said we need to come back and take a second stab" at the budget.
Negron said the money will come from reserves.
"This is consistent with the Senate’s earlier action during 2017 Regular Session to reduce the anticipated $250 million general revenue cut to $200 million,'' he said in the memo. "Once approved, our Working Capital Reserve Account would remain over $1.2 billion and our total reserves would exceed $3.2 billion."
He said he also expects the Senate to "consider a proposal to override the veto of some university and higher education funding that represent major priorities of Senators." He did not specify which vetoes will be reconsidered.
"There was an acknowledgement that the Legislature and the governor didn't quite get the budget right,'' said Flores, R-Miami, the Senate chair of the health appropriations committee. "We're saying we should also come back and fix other unfinished business of the people."
Flores' bill will also move the Senate closer to where it was on hospital funding and and reflects one of the Senate's priorities, she said. She acknowledged the proposals must get support from the House.
"This is not a deal by any stretch of the imagination. Just like the first go-round wasn't a deal, this isn't either,'' she said.