Florida lawmakers are poised to make more than $500 million worth of budget cuts to this year's spending plan - less than five months after they slashed $1.1 billion from the budget that the GOP-controlled Legislature passed in May 2007. House and Senate committees will take up the cut bills on Monday, the eve of the 2008 regular session.
The bills released Monday night - while similar in many ways - however do show a slight difference between the two chambers. The House package of cuts comes to $542.5 million, while the Senate cuts released so far are $526.7 million.
The Senate cuts in education are about $4 million higher and include a $1.69 million cut to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind while the House cuts only $850,000 from the school located in St. Augustine. The Senate has not included a $9.3 million cut for the Legislature itself, but that's not surprising since the cuts released so far are just those that will be approved by the various appropriations committees. The House by contrast is bypassing its councils and is instead taking a full cut bill to the House Policy and Budget Council.
Other differences: The House has proposed a $1.9 million to the office of Gov. Charlie Crist, while the Senate has a small cut of $10,504 to the governor's office now. The House cut, however, would not require any layoffs in the governor's office. The House also wants to cut $20 million from the Department of Community Affairs that was matching money for FEMA grants.