Editorial cartoonist Bill Day sharpens his pencil to mark the “official” sine die of Florida’s 2015 legislative session.
While today would usually be filled with post-hanky drop celebrations throughout the Florida Capitol and along Adams Street, there is no joy tonight in Mudville (otherwise known as Tallahassee).
On Tuesday, the House abruptly adjourned its session, hightailing it out of town three days early. The lower chamber’s disappearing act left the Senate hanging — with a full agenda, a long list of significant bills dead or dying — and possibly a violation of the Florida Constitution.
But what is a couple of days for House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, especially when there is fishin’ to be done?
What launched this confrontation is an obstinate impasse between the House and Senate. At issue was Medicaid expansion to serve nearly one million working poor Floridians, as well as the funding of the soon-to-expire federal Low-Income Pool that compensates hospitals that care for uninsured and indigent patients.
The Senate offered an $80 billion budget, which would do both, while the House budget came in without a spending plan at $76.2 billion.
This budgetary standoff has lasted for a month. Gov. Rick Scott stands firm with the House — although previously supporting Medicaid expansion — and continues to oppose the federal Affordable Care Act at the heart of the matter.
Therefore, while the doors of the Florida House close after 57 days of a 60-day Session, it certainly won’t stay that way. A special session will come, in either May or June, to do the one job lawmakers are constitutionally required to do – pass a budget by the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30.
Meanwhile, Scott and members will need to do something (and soon) to reach a compromise, so lawmakers can come back from the fishin’ hole and get back to the work voters elected them to do.