Budget talks set to start

by | Feb 26, 2024

The House and Senate are set to begin formal budget negotiations with a deadline for completion by March 5 to adhere to the legislative session’s schedule.

The House and Senate announced Monday they are ready to begin formal budget negotiations and pointed to a tighter spending plan.

“The timeline to spend (COVID-19 federal) pandemic funds is coming to end, we are making smart, fiscally-responsible adjustments and right-sizing our balanced budget to a level sustainable for the long term,” a joint memorandum said. “Instead of spending all we have, we are paying down debt, setting aside historic reserves, and providing for meaningful tax relief, so Floridians can keep more of their hard-earned money.”

Conference committees could meet as early as Monday evening. Because of a constitutionally required 72-hour “cooling off” period, the budget will need to be finished March 5 to allow the legislative session to end as scheduled. on March 8.

The budget will take effect with the July 1 start of the 2024-2025 fiscal year. The Senate and House have proposed budgets that top $115 billion. The budget in the current year totaled $119.1 billion.

The memorandum Monday said the House and Senate are already aligned on some key issues, including an across-the-board pay raise for state employees, the use of gambling money to acquire and manage conservation lands and money for a major health plan — known as the “Live Healthy” initiative — that is a priority of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.

Conference committees focused on different aspects of the budget — such as transportation, education, health and human services, agriculture and criminal and civil justice — will negotiate details of the budget through Wednesday. At that time, the unresolved issues will go to Senate Appropriations Chairman Doug Broxson and House Appropriations Chairman Tom Leek.


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