TALLAHASSEE — A messy budget fight that forced Florida's legislators to hold an unusual June special session cost taxpayers more than $651,000, according to figures released Monday by the Florida Senate.
The nine-day special session turned out to be the costliest special session in the last 15 years, and the most expensive one since Republicans took full control over state government with the election of Jeb Bush as governor.
Lawmakers last Friday wrapped up a 12-day special session where they failed to draw up a new congressional map despite a court ruling ordering them to do so. Those totals are not yet final.
Katie Betta, a spokeswoman for Senate President Andy Gardiner, pointed out the higher cost for the June special session was largely due to the length of the session. Most special sessions since 2000 have lasted less than a week. Betta noted that the average daily cost for the June session was slightly more than $72,000, which was a lower daily cost than three other sessions including one held during the summer of 2014.
Legislators were forced to hold a June special session because the House and Senate had a bitter disagreement over health care spending and Medicaid expansion during the regular session held in the spring. The House abruptly adjourned three and a half days early due to the standoff.
The Legislature is set to hold its third special session of the year in October when lawmakers are scheduled to adopt new districts for the state Senate. Lawmakers will then return in January for their annual session. The 2016 date was moved up from the normal March starting date.
Senate records show that the second costliest special session in the last 15 years occurred in October 2007. Then House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt called a special session to deal with property taxes. Taxpayers spent nearly $309,000 for a session, which last five days long.