Compilation of analysis, highlights, reaction (and stashed-away goodies) to legislature's budget proposal

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This is going to be a running post of analysis of, highlights of and reaction to the Florida legislature’s budget proposal:

Update – 6:22 p.m. -An antigambling group is blasting state budget-writers for cutting services for compulsive gamblers while including $400,000 for a study of destination resorts. Several destination resort bills, which would have created up to five large casino developments around the state, failed to get traction this year; all of them died in committee. “Adding insult to injury, the Legislature has chosen to set aside $400,000 to conduct a study of the revenues that can be generated by casinos and horse racing, which will ultimately be used as the future justification for expanding gambling through Florida,” said Pat Fowler, executive director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, in a statement issued Wednesday. “The roadmap is very clear.” The budget is scheduled for a vote Friday.

Update – 3:08 p.m. – Rep. Charles Chestnut explains why he is going to vote against the budget.

Update – 10:39 a.m. -One budget item that jumps out fromtoday’s budget deal is that the Senate is giving itself a 26 percent budget increase, $9 million more than last year — and more than what was budgeted in either of the original House or Senate plans, reports Aaron Deslatte.

Update – 10:33 a.m. – I can’t be the only one who thinks that the$5 million tucked away for the World Class International Regatta Sports Center will turn out to be this year’s version of the ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’

Update – 10:31 a.m. – If you read one article about the budget, make sure it’s Gary Fineout’s analysis here.

Update – 10:01 a.m. – Progressive blogger Daniel Tilson offers a great video commentary here.

Update – 9:04 a.m. – Environmentalists warn Scott’s tax cuts could threaten Everglades clean-up efforts by depleting available dollars. And lawmakers Tuesday agreed to raise state funding for Everglades work from $10 million to $29 million, although that is still down from last year’s $50 million level.”The tax cut is going to be devastating to Everglades restoration,” said Eric Draper, lobbyist for the state’s Audubon Society, although federal officials have said they have the money to keep the effort going. More from the Palm Beach Post here.

Update – 9:00 a.m. – There will be a late finish on Friday.The Senate notified legislators late Tuesday that the budget is available for them to start reading, setting in motion a 72-hour waiting period before they can vote. The email from the Senate secretary’s office went out at 10:16 p.m., on Tuesday, meaning the vote on the bill can’t be voted on until 10:16 p.m. on Friday at the earliest. A Senate spokesman confirmed that 10:16 p.m. was the start time on the budget clock

Update – 7:59 a.m. – Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, released the following statement regarding the Senate and House coming to a compromise on the state? budget:

?e were pleased to come to a compromise with our House colleagues on the state budget. As we began this legislative session, the sobering state of the budget reflected the economic realities Florida faces at this time. It was important that legislators practice fiscal discipline while also funding critical government services, protecting Florida? most vulnerable citizens and making choices that protect Florida? fiscal future.

?udget negotiations proved to be challenging, but Chairman Alexander showed phenomenal leadership, remaining respectful and composed during the process. While focusing on protecting critical services under a more efficient government, we were able to uphold our commitment to not raise taxes and fees and have agreed upon a budget with more than $300 million in tax relief measures and more than $1 billion in spending cuts.

? commend Senator Alexander and all those who served on the Budget Conference Committee for taking part in this arduous yet critical part of our roles in the legislative process.?/span>

Update – 4:46 a.m. – Marc Caputo and Steve Bosquet’s article on the Florida budget can be read here.

Update – 11:00 p.m. –The Legislature’s final budget weighs in at 406 pages and $69.7 billion in spending. It eliminates nearly 4,500 state jobs.

Here’s a bottom-line side-by-side (numbers in thousands)

FY12 Inc(Dec)
Education $19,900.60 $ (2,614.60)
Health $29,991.30 $ 1,509.00
Criminal Justice $ 4,478.50 $ (172.40)
TED, Environment $10,858.90 $ 1,080.30
General Govt. $ 3,988.30 $ (499.80)
Judiciary $ 459.20 $ (3.20)
Total $69,676.60 $ (700.80)


FY12 FTE inc(dec.)
Education 2,376.75 (111.25)
Health 35,686.25 (1,183.50)
Criminal Justice 44,955.25 (2,406.50)
TED, Environment 16,216.25 (751.00)
General Govt. 18,678.75 (37.50)
Judiciary 4,322.50 (3.00)
Total 122,235.75 (4,492.75)


Update – 10:11 p.m. – Florida Channel funding restored -A few weeks ago, Florida Channel was facing dire budget proposals in the House and Senate. The House had suggested a budget cut of 30 percent and the Senate wanted a 20 percent reduction. Florida Channel Executive Director Beth Switzer said these cuts would force the channel, which broadcasts legislative hearings, floor debates and other state government meetings, to lay off employees and reduce coverage. But the latest budget offer from the House this morning completely restores Florida Channel? funding to $1.8 million next fiscal year, up from $1.3 million in the previous agreement, reports the News Service of Florida. Last year the Florida Channel also escaped funding cuts. The state-funded Florida Channel is especially beloved by lobbyists, lawmakers and news reporters, who heavily rely on its videos of state proceedings to do their jobs.

Update – 9:23 p.m. – Workers Comp prescription issue not in budget deal -A budget deal reached Tuesday does not include a controversial proposal to limit how much doctors can charge for dispensing drugs to workers-compensation patients.Sen. Alan Hays, a Umatilla Republican who spearheaded the proposal, said it did not survive budget negotiations between the House and Senate. Former Gov. Charlie Crist also vetoed such limits last year.The powerful business group Associated Industries of Florida lobbied for the limits, arguing that doctors charge too much for dispensing drugs and that the bill could save $62 million in workers-compensation costs. It contended those savings would be passed on to businesses through lower insurance rates.Look at how many jobs can be funded with $62 million,? Hays said Tuesday. ?e can flat put some people to work with that.?But the Florida Medical Association and a large Republican contributor, Miramar-based Automated HealthCare Solutions, opposed the limits. Automated HealthCare Solutions sells technology used in dispensing.

Information from the News Service of Florida was used in these reports.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.