Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida budget talks stall over health care

TALLAHASSEE — Florida's legislative session will either be a photo finish or a Republican embarrassment.

On Monday, with just four days left in the 60-day session, GOP leaders threw a few verbal jabs at each other and began seriously talking about an overtime session because they can't agree on the fine print of $29 billion in health care spending.

The Senate wants to spend more than the House on Medicaid doctor reimbursements. The House wants to spend more than the Senate for mental-health and substance-abuse treatment. The Senate also spends less than the House on programs for the developmentally disabled and the catastrophically sick in the Health and Human Services budget.

"The difference between the House and Senate HHS budgets is that the House is trying to level fund critical needs and resolve deficits and the Senate is trying to fund political payback to special interests, member projects and early implement federal health care reform," House budget chairwoman Denise Grimsley said in a written statement.

Those are fighting words in a Republican-led Legislature where President Barack Obama's health care plan is a favorite whipping boy.

Grimsley's fellow Republican counterpart, Sen. J.D. Alexander, smiled when told of the statement.

"Those aren't Denise's words," said Alexander, who has known Grimsley since they were in the same first-grade class at Zolfo Springs Elementary School.

So whose are they? "You know who," said Alexander, suggesting it was sharp-tongued House Speaker Dean Cannon, whom Alexander accused of gamesmanship last week.

Cannon couldn't be reached to respond.

Earlier in the day, Cannon cast doubt on an on-time finish. Republicans say it's tough to justify the expense of extending a session when they control veto-proof majorities.

"I certainly hope we can get done on time," Cannon said. "My gut tells me it's going to be a photo finish."

Cannon, R-Winter Park, said "it's more important that we get it done right than we get it done quickly." His counterpart, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, said the same thing.

But in Haridopolos' case, finishing on time is more politically important. He's running for U.S. Senate, and he'd rather hit the campaign trail.

Haridopolos said it isn't easy to balance a budget like Florida's while staring down a nearly $4 billion budget hole. That task is even more complicated by the fact that legislators want to give Gov. Rick Scott a win by cutting taxes — thereby making the shortfall slightly wider.

Scott called for $2.4 billion in tax and fee cuts. Lawmakers say they can't do that. Haridopolos said Sunday that the Senate wouldn't cut corporate-income taxes, but on Monday he backtracked somewhat.

Haridopolos said he's interested in increasing the corporate income tax exemption from $5,000 to $25,000, which could remove from the rolls roughly half of the 30,000 businesses that pay the tax at a cost of between $30 million to $37 million.

Florida budget talks stall over health care 05/02/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 12:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Forecast: Remnants of tropical wave continues to bring rain through the weekend

    Blogs

    After relatively dry weather through the first half of the workweek, the tropical wave remnants continue to bring an increased threat for showers and storms across the state and Tampa Bay.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast
  2. Harvey regains tropical storm strength in Gulf of Mexico

    Blogs

    MIAMI (AP) — Harvey regained tropical storm strength as it drifted in the Gulf of Mexico toward Texas early Thursday and forecasters said it could become a hurricane.

    Leo Sermiento, left, and Emilio Gutierrez, right, fill sandbags in preparation of a tropical system on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, on South Padre Island, Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the State Operations Center to elevate its readiness level and is making state resources available for preparation and possible rescue and recovery actions amid forecasts a tropical storm will make landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast.
  3. Largest Powerball jackpot won by single ticket in Massachusetts

    Blogs

    DES MOINES, Iowa - Powerball Product Group Chair Charlie McIntyre says the $758.7 million jackpot claimed by a ticket sold in Massachusetts is the largest grand prize won by a single lottery ticket in U.S. history.

    A Powerball lottery sign displays the lottery prizes at a convenience store Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, in Northbrook, Ill. Lottery officials said the grand prize for Wednesday night's drawing has reached $700 million, the second -largest on record for any U.S. lottery game.
  4. Florida education news: Computer coding, guidance counseling, career planning and more

    Blogs

    SESSION STARTERS: State Sen. Jeff Brandes refiles legislation to allow Florida high school students to swap computer coding for foreign language credits.

  5. Rays morning after: Offense showing some life

    Blogs