Because Scott’s tax-cut proposal was sharply reduced and a $250 million package of business incentives was dropped entirely, the governor is expected to lean heavily on his line-item veto pen.
Lawmakers have to agree on the roughly $80 billion overall spending plan by Tuesday for the legislative session to end on Friday, as scheduled.
The legislature’s budget plans are filled with pork items for local groups, parks, theaters and museums that may be minor in the overall proposals but important to lawmakers who want to take home money for projects and programs.
The Senate is proposing spending $7,249 a student, against Scott’s $7,220, but the increase relies on rising local property taxes, which are part of the state funding formula.
An election-year budget that includes huge tax cuts, record funding for public schools and a new initiative to bring jobs to Florida might be good politics for lawmakers. The question is whether they can afford it.
After a strange and at times exhausting 2015, Florida’s government and political establishment is bracing for what could be another intriguing year with another election is on tap in the biggest swing state in the nation.
Scott wants a larger tax-cut package in 2016 than the $673 million he sought this year, even though the state budget surplus is projected at $635.4 million, much of it one-time revenue that won;t recur in subsequent years.
In inflation adjusted dollars, current spending on public education is $1,100-per-student less than it was in 2007, and would still be $1,000 less if the Legislature goes along with a state board of education proposal.
At least some of the extra money is likely to be eaten up by increasing enrollment in the state’s public schools, changes to health-care spending and the like.
Disagreements led Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, to label the House as “hypocritical” for rejecting federal Medicaid expansion funding while being willing to issue bonds to pay for environmental projects.