Lawmakers have framework budget deal
Rep. Ron Reagan, (R), Bradenton, passes Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul, (R), Ocala, after Cretuls' announcement to House members today. [Scott Keeler, Times]
House Speaker Larry Cretul just announced that House and Senate leaders have a framework budget deal with allocations for the various parts of the budget. That means budget conferencing will begin today at 4 p.m. with introductory meetings, to be followed by the first exchange of offers later today or tomorrow.
Lawmakers have been negotiating behind closed doors for weeks to get to the point where final budget negotiations can be had.
The session will extend for budget issues only through next Friday. Members will take the weekend off and return next Thursday as leaders meet through the weekend, with the budget to be completed by noon Tuesday.
"I want to make it perfectly clear: This will be an open process," Cretul said.
Senate President Jeff Atwater made a similar announcement shortly after, echoing Cretul in saying, "This is a very, very open process."
The schedule: Conference committees start today at 4 p.m. By Friday, if issues are unresolved, Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander and his House counterparts (Reps. David Rivera and Marcelo Llorente) will meet through the weekend. By noon Sunday, Atwater and Cretul will decide any other unresolved issues.
Budgets placed on the desks: noon Tuesday.