The Florida Legislature will be hanging around in Tallahassee at least through Sunday.
The only constitutionally-mandated action required of lawmakers during their 60 day session is passage of a budget. Legislative leaders finally reached an agreement on an $87 billion spending plan Thursday morning.
“The budget is done,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island. “We’re going to bring it to the floor. The House is going to debate it. The Senate is going to debate it.”
When that debate will take place is still in question.
“I believe we’re meeting on Sunday,” Bradley said.
A lot of that will depend on whether the legislative budget staff can get the massive spending document printed and in the hands of lawmakers by this afternoon. Lawmakers are constitutionally-mandated to wait 72 hours once the budget is printed and electronically transmitted to lawmakers. That means the earliest a vote could come would be Sunday afternoon.
As it now stands, the Legislature would wrap up regular action on the scheduled closing day of the session which is Friday. The session would be extended until at least Sunday for the sole purpose of taking up the budget.
The holdup over the budget had reportedly been a disagreement over how much money should be allocated to hospitals for the treatment of Medicaid patients.
The budget negotiations were overshadowed by the debate on the controversial school safety bill that dominated headlines out of Tallahassee this week. Some believe the budget talks were deliberately delayed in order to guarantee legislative support for the bill. The House approved the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act on Wednesday sending the legislation to Gov. Rick Scott for his consideration.
Legislative leaders denied that local projects of lawmakers who opposed the school safety measure were being removed from the budget in order to sway those lawmakers to change their votes on the bill.