Members of a legislative conference committee spent Thursday working out the final details of an $83 billion dollar state budget plan for next fiscal year confident a final version would be agreed to by the end of the day.
“I think with the exception of one or two big issues that may have been put in the wrong space of the spreadsheet, I think yes,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Jack Latvala told reporters after a mid-afternoon meeting of budget negotiators. “It’s a lot of money. We just want to be right about what we do.”
The Legislature will have to extend its session through Monday at the earliest in order to meet the constitutional requirement of a 72-hour cooling off period. The three day window is designed to give lawmakers time to take a closer look at the spending plan before casting a final vote. The session could have ended Friday as scheduled had negotiators agreed to a spending plan and had it on the desks of lawmakers by this past Tuesday.
The budget proposal has led to some tension between the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott. The Governor was upset that lawmakers cut funding to two agencies that he considers a crucial part of the state’s economic development. Lawmakers cut money for job-incentive programs at Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development authority. It also dramatically cut funding for Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency.
Gov. Scott began a 10 city tour of the state today to take his case to the people. In addition to cutting the economic development programs, Gov. Scott is critical of lawmakers for not providing more tax cuts, and not setting aside more money for schools.
The tension could lead to a potential showdown between the governor and lawmakers. Gov. Scott could use his veto pen to cut spending items backed by those lawmakers who opposed his budget requests, namely House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
The governor could also veto the entire spending plan and call lawmakers back for s special session before the start of the new fiscal year, which starts July 1. If that were to happen, lawmakers would have to come up with two-thirds of the vote in both the House and Senate to override a possible budget veto.
The last time a governor vetoed an entire budget was in 1992 when Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles vetoed the budget approved by the Democratic Legislature after lawmakers refused to raise taxes to offset state revenue shortfalls.