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Gov’t ops budgets inch toward reconciliation

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Government Operations/General Government budget conference held its second meeting Saturday, as the sub-chairs for each chamber — Rep. Jeanette Nunez and Sen. Alan Hays — continued to wrangle spreadsheets and inch closer to squaring the $10 million in differences between their respective proposals.

This time it was the House’s turn to respond to a Senate offer from earlier this morning, and Nunez made progress towards reconciling the outstanding line items, though they remain about $11.6 million apart.

Major sticking points include some $7 million in the House proposal for new radio equipment for law enforcement, part of a bitter intra-industry battle between Harris Corporation — the incumbent state vendor for such radios — and Motorola, who would like the state to hold off on buying more radios until a competitive bidding process on the contract expires in 2021.

Harris is headquartered in Brevard County, which is represented by Speaker Steve Crisafulli. Sen. Jack Latvala last year called a similar budget move “a back door extension” of the contract which would obviate the bidding process.

The Senate is also proposing $7.2 million more for than the House statewide capital depreciation, to pass through the Department of Management Services.

Among the House’s new proposals were five additional investigators for the state’s Public Assistance Fraud Unit, a priority of CFO (and former Senate President) Jeff Atwater.

Hays said he felt the conferees could probably close the gap with a third meeting today, but that wasn’t an option because their budget is linked to agriculture and natural resource spending currently being worked out in another conference panel.

Hays advised members to “hang loose” while he and Nunez devised a time to meet next, likely around 11 a.m. Sunday. Nunez said the meeting would be noticed either Saturday evening or early Sunday.

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Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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