Senate will hold budget hearings next week
UPDATE 1:25 p.m.: Sen. Atwater officially announced the meetings at the outset of a 1 p.m. budget briefing for the Senate. "This is not simply another budget exercise. Throughout the nation, and particularly this state, there has been a tectonic shift in the structural underpinnings of our economy that requires us to take a look at our mission through very different prisms," he said. "Our financial circumstances are not the result of one or two bad quarters or the failure of a discreet segment of our economy. Virtually every facet of our historic, financial, fiscal baselines have been skewed in ways that beg for analysis and response." Buzz audio of his speech is here.
With Florida mired in a $2-billion deficit this year and facing a deficit more than twice as large next year, the state Senate has decided that it can't wait until after the holidays to start seeking answers. The Buzz has learned that Senate president Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, will announce that budget committees will begin next Wednesday, Dec. 17, in a prelude to a special session that is anticipated in January. Senators will be seeking solutions to the deepening shortfall. The veteran-laden list of Senate budget chairmen is headed by Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Winter Haven, the Ways and Means chairman.