Time is running out for state budget talks: session heads into overtime


TALLAHASSEE — With a budget remaining unfinished Tuesday night, the annual legislative session heads into overtime.

President of the Senate wilton simpsonR-Trilby and Speaker of the House Chris SprowsR-Palm Harbor, released a memo shortly before 9 p.m. saying budget talks would continue on Wednesday.

State law requires a 72-hour “cooling off” period before lawmakers can vote on the budget. This means that the budget had to be finished on Tuesday for the session to end as scheduled on Friday.

“When the budget is on the table and the 72-hour clock has begun, we may determine the specific timing for a concurrent resolution to extend the session to vote on the budget and related bills,” the memo reads. . “Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work together to meet our constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget for our state.”

Senate Appropriations Chair Kelli StargelR-Lakeland and Chairman of Parliamentary Appropriations Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, held two town hall meetings earlier in the day to try to bridge differences over the budget. They did not meet on Tuesday evening.

“Presidents Trumbull and Stargel have made tremendous progress and continue to work to reconcile outstanding minor budget issues at a steady pace,” the memo reads. “Meanwhile, the staff is working on entering and verifying the conference report (the budget).”

“Despite the tremendous efforts of everyone involved, we are hitting the 72-hour mark,” the memo continues. “Rather than hold important public conference meetings unreasonably late at night, we have asked Presidents Trumbull and Stargel to call a meeting for tomorrow.”

The announcement came as the House held a marathon floor session that included consideration of high-profile bills on issues including immigration and elections. Although the memo said no decision had been made on how the extended session would be handled, options could include meeting on Saturday or returning next week.

In addition, lawmakers may have to meet again at some point to work on a congressional redistricting plan. The House and Senate passed a plan, but the Governor. Ron DeSantis threatened to veto it. A map must be finalized before a June qualifying period for the November elections.

Lawmakers are expected to finally agree on a budget that will top $100 billion for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The planned 60-day session began on January 11.

On Tuesday afternoon, talks continued on issues concerning public schools, higher education, agriculture and natural resources, including spending variances on resilience projects and land preservation. At that time, Trumbull still held out hope that the budget could be completed by Tuesday.

“Our goal was the same as this morning, it’s to do everything we can to get done today,” Trumbull said. “You know, our staff (work) crazy hours. I’m super, super grateful for all that. So hopefully we can get there. And we’ll just see how it progresses.

– News Service writers Jim Turner and Ryan Dailey contributed to this report.


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