House, Senate ready to start budget negotiations to resolve difference of $3.3 billion

by | Mar 1, 2022

 

Budget negotiations are ready to move forward in the Florida Legislature. House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, announced the makeup of the various appropriations conference committees Monday, along with overall funding amounts for different sections of the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget.

Bolstered by federal stimulus money and growing sales tax revenues, the House and Senate have pitched record spending plans, with the House at $105.3 billion and the Senate at $108.6 billion. Major differences include the House asking to shift $200 million away from school districts that required students to wear masks last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the Senate has rolled out a controversial environmental package that touches on Everglades funding.

House and Senate leaders have decided to spend an overall total of $42.44 billion in general revenue, with $14.4 billion for health care, $13.5 billion for PreK-12 education, $5.94 billion for criminal and civil justice, which includes prisons, and $5 billion for higher education.

Other parts of the budget, such as agriculture, the environment, transportation and economic development, will get smaller amounts. When the budget for the current fiscal year entered talks last April, allocations totaled $36.183 billion. With the session set to end March 11, subject-area conference committees are expected to complete negotiations by the end of Thursday, when unresolved issues will go to House Appropriations Chairman Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City and Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.

Issues that Trumbull and Stargel can’t resolve would be decided by Simpson and Sprowls. Because of a legally required 72-hour “cooling off” period, the final spending plan must reach lawmakers on March 8 to finish the 60-day session on time.

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