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Agencies respond to Rick Scott’s request for critical needs

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Florida agencies responded to Gov. Rick Scott‘s call to identify critical needs that may be jeopardized if the state’s budget expires this summer, including processing $152 million in child support services a month, ensuring uninterrupted supervision of incarcerated individuals and selling Lottery tickets.

From the Office of Insurance Regulation to the Department of Management Services to the Division of Emergency Management, agencies submitted their lists to the governor identifying what services would be eliminated.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission advised the governor that it would not be able to issue saltwater and freshwater, wholesale and retail fishing licenses.

The Division of Administrative Hearings said it oversees cases that “keep the wheels of state regulation turning. It is the office charged with involuntary commitment in state and private mental health facilities, which must be regularly performed “to keep the public and affected individuals safe.”

The Department of Management Services said it would not be able to pay more than $200 million monthly to hospitals, doctors and pharmacies and that there would be no guarantee that state employees will receive health care.

The Department of State could not operate or manage the Florida Voter Registration System and the campaign finance electronic monitoring system. And the Agency for Health Care Administration–which spends roughly $60 million a day–would cease to be part of the Medicaid “partnership” if the state did not have budget authority. “This means Medicaid managed care would not receive their monthly payments for the care for recipients.”

Scott sent a memo out to agency heads identifying a list of critical services that the Office of Planning and Budgeting has identified for the upcoming year, beginning July 1. He asked the agencies to prepare a list of critical services they deem are important “in the event Florida is forced into a government showdown on July 1,” according to the memo.

The Florida Legislature adjourned the 2015 session without passing the one must-pass bill: the General Appropriations Act, or the budget. The House of Representatives and Florida Senate could not bridge a $4 billion difference in their spending plans, an impasse caused by the Senate accepting federal Medicaid dollars for expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare and the continuation of the $2.2 billion Low Income Pool program.

The Legislature will meet in special session between June 1-20. The agenda is wide open, including health care and resolving the 2015-16 budget.

Scott has consistently said since the Legislature left Tallahassee that he is working on a “continuation” or “base” budget for the state to avoid a government shutdown.

Spokesperson Jackie Schutz said the governor’s focus is to keep government running.  “Governor Scott is glad the Legislature issued a call for a special session and remains cautiously optimistic that we will have a budget that will help our economy grow and create more jobs.”

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