House, Senate close in on budget deal; Scott's tax cuts unlikely

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A day after angry barbs traded between the House and Senate seemed likely to derail the session? scheduled ending next week, legislative leaders announced a deal on the broad contours of a budget that could allow them to wrap up business on time, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida. The deal, which calls for $22.7 billion in general revenue, sweeps $528.6 million from trust funds; sets aside just $30 million in recurring revenue for tax cuts; and sets the stage for asking state employees to contribute 3 percent of their income toward their pensions. In a joint appearance on the House floor following the announcement, Senate President Mike Haridopolos lauded House Speaker Dean Cannon as ?racious, patient and a strong conservative?– a day after the upper chamber? budget chief said Cannon ?as done everything but … seeking a win-win for both chambers.? On Tuesday, leaders said they were moving forward. ?ere? to a successful ending,?said Cannon, R-Winter Park. And lawmakers sounded optimistic that the session would end by May 6, something that will likely require conference committees that begin meeting Wednesday to hammer out a final agreement early next week. ?e?e going to our best to get out of here next Friday,?Haridopolos told reporters after his appearance with Cannon. But the agreement heightened the chance of a clash with Gov. Rick Scott over the future of his corporate income tax cut. The $30 million in recurring general revenue for tax cuts and economic development, and the $106.1 million in nonrecurring funding, would not be enough to match Scott? plans for the corporate tax. Haridopolos said there was still room for some form of tax relief, though he didn? specify what form those cuts would take. And Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, all but ruled out a large reduction in the tax. ?here? some continued discussion about it, but I would tell you it? not a significant priority for the Senate,?Alexander said. ?f we were to do something, we would really look at small businesses and try to help them.? As he has throughout the budget process, Scott remained upbeat about the prospects for a signature piece of the economic plan he rode to election in November. ?? confident, with the House and Senate that we have, that we?l get tax reductions, because everybody understands that this is about jobs,?Scott said. Alexander sounded higher on the prospects for reducing the property tax rates charged by the state? water management districts, even though the agreement does not sweep the districts entirely under the budget, as the Senate had suggested. ?hether we do it in the budget or the governor does it, I think you?e going to see a significant tax reduction for property owners related to water management districts,?Alexander said. The agreement also boosts spending on human services by $875.3 million, closer to the House position, and slices spending for education more deeply than the Senate had proposed. And it hews more closely to the House? plan for retirement plans. The Senate had wanted a tiered system that would have asked employees to contribute differing portions of their income to pensions based on the size of their salaries. The House pushed an across-the-board 3-percent contribution. ?e?e had substantial conversations around a flat 3 percent,?Alexander said. Leaders were vague on what had prompted the breakthrough in the hours after Alexander pushed Cannon? Supreme Court package through the Senate Budget Committee, then slammed the speaker in unusually blunt terms. Alexander quipped that it was ?he magic of the legislative process.? After the joint appearance, Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said the two leaders had spoken by phone Monday evening, and that their personal relationship had helped secure a deal. ?esterday was an up and down day,?he conceded, ?nd our friendship really made the day a success.?]>

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.