You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Florida House, Senate are $2 billion apart on budget proposals


The House and Senate are on track to start budget negotiations with a gap of $2 billion in their proposals, providing fresh reasons for skepticism that lawmakers will complete a spending plan by the scheduled May 5 end of the legislative session.

The Senate on Thursday published an initial draft of its budget that would spend $83.2 billion in the year that begins July 1. Shortly afterward, House leaders announced that their spending plan would check in around $81.2 billion.

That could set up a collision course between the two chambers, which will have to decide how much to spend before the smaller details of how to divvy up the money can be hammered out by negotiating committees.

RELATED: Complete Florida Legislature coverage

House and Senate budget-writing panels are expected to vote during the coming week on the competing budget plans, which come as state finances are expected to weaken in future years.

The state is projecting a small surplus in the fiscal year that starts July 1, followed by a $1.3 billion shortfall the following year and a $1.9 billion hole the year after that.

One of the few new details in the Senate plan unveiled Thursday was the outline of a long-promised increase in pay for state workers. The proposal would provide $219.7 million in raises for employees. Most workers making up to $40,000 a year would get a $1,400 raise, with an increase of $1,000 for those making more.

Some workers, including front-line corrections officers and judges, would get larger pay increases. State law-enforcement officers would see their paychecks increase by 5 percent; assistant public defenders with at least three years of experience would receive a 6 percent hike.

“For far too long, the honorable and dedicated state employees who guard prisons, protect our highways, care for abused and neglected children, and who provide many other critical government services, have gone without an increase in their pay,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who has made raises one of his priorities. “The Senate budget makes it clear that we value the contributions these public servants make to our state.”

House leaders focused on the future impact of their plan, which they said would turn the shortfalls in future years into surpluses. House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, underscored a decision to slash about a quarter of $700 million of budget projects that were wedged into spending plans by past lawmakers and draw on year-after-year funding.

“For the first time in at least my time up here, we’ve gone after recurring projects and member projects and have eliminated a substantial amount of them,” he said.

But many of those ideas seem destined to run into opposition in the Senate. The House would slash the budgets of colleges and universities, despite Senate President Joe Negron’s focus on boosting higher education in the state. Cuts in health care are also likely to prove controversial in the upper chamber.

And the House and Senate remain divided by whether to roll back school property-tax rates to make sure homeowners don’t face larger tax bills even if the value of their properties increase.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Social activists prepare to examine race at White Privilege Conference
Social activists prepare to examine race at White Privilege Conference

This is not going to feel good: The National White Privilege Conference is coming to Kansas City.  The notion that whites in America step into their communities with more advantages of earned and unearned privileges than their neighbors of color is a hard conversation starter.  The social activists who urged the annual conference to come...
Ted Cruz proposes using assets seized from El Chapo to fund border wall
Ted Cruz proposes using assets seized from El Chapo to fund border wall

As President Donald Trump struggles to persuade Congress to pay for his oft-promised border wall and Mexico continues to insist it will not spend a dime on the project, Sen. Ted Cruz has come up with another idea.  The Texas Republican introduced a bill Tuesday that would use assets seized from Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and other drug...
How Newt Gingrich became the go-to interview for every story about the Trump White House
How Newt Gingrich became the go-to interview for every story about the Trump White House

Donald Trump is everything to Newt Gingrich.   He's "the grizzly bear in The Revenant," he told the Huffington Post; a "pirate" willing to get things done outside the system he proclaimed to Fox News; and a shrewd businessman who "likes to invest in winners because they make more money," he said to the New York...
Palm Beach County worried about proposed hike in homestead exemption
Palm Beach County worried about proposed hike in homestead exemption

Legislation that could lead to the expansion of Florida’s homestead exemption could blow a $29 million hole in Palm Beach County’s budget, county officials warn. The Florida House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday on a joint resolution (HJR 7105) that would have voters decide if they want to increase the homestead exemption...
Trump expected to order study of federal role in education
Trump expected to order study of federal role in education

 President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order today that would require Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to study how the federal government "has unlawfully overstepped state and local control," according to a White House official.   Trump has repeatedly pledged to downsize the Education Department and its role...
More Stories