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House Dems to reject budget, say on healthcare GOP ‘is all alone on an island’

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Florida House Democrats intend to reject the House budget plan this afternoon on three counts:

They will argue the spending plan does not include enough money for education, fails to comply with voter intent on Amendment 1 and doesn’t cover a billion-dollar gap in the healthcare budget created by the end of a federal program for safety-net hospitals.

The Democrats support a Senate plan to bridge the gap with Medicaid dollars.

“Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle in the Florida House are out alone on an island by themselves on this issue. The entire business community, the medical community, the hospital community, just plain old communities in the state, everybody wants to see this happen,” said state Rep. Evan Jenne about the Senate plan.

“They’re by themselves on this issue,” he said, referring to the House Republicans. “Literally, there’s no one else who supports them on this issue. Not even their colleagues in the same Legislature and that is something they need to recognize.”

Democratic leader Mark Pafford said the spending plan fails to comply with voter intent to earmark more than $700 million for conservation land buying with the approval of Amendment 1.

“Amendment 1 was a clear indication by the people of Florida that we are not doing enough (conservation), that the Legislature has not done enough,” said Pafford. “And the people took a moment and had a purpose, saying here it was you need to do and this budget does not reflect that idea.”

The House is scheduled to take up its $76.2 billion spending plan this afternoon. The Senate approved an $80.4 billion budget Wednesday. The two chambers have until the end of the month to work out their differences if they are to conclude the 60-day legislative session on time.

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