Haridop: Legislature could end session early

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Florida lawmakers are supposed to return to the Capitol next week to start a 60-day session, and already leaders are divided over how and when to address the state’s nearly $2 billion budget shortfall, reports Gary Fineout of the Associated Press.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos said today that he remains worried that the state’s finances are fluctuating and that lawmakers may have a vote on a new budget until later this year.

Haridopolos said one option that could be considered is to have the session end early and then return sometime later in the spring to work on the budget. Such a move would force legislators to finish up all their other work much more quickly. One idea is to end the session after just 40 days since legislators have until July to pass a new budget.

“I hope we don’t have to do this,” Haridopolos said.

The only reason this year’s annual session is starting on Jan. 10 is because legislators must also pass maps that redraw Congressional and legislative districts based on new U.S. Census figures.

The Merritt Island Republican said a final decision on the budget will hinge largely on whether or not senators have confidence in new estimates that state economists are expected to release next week. Economists who work for the state periodically during the year look at tax collections and try to predict how much money the state will have to spend.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.