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House, Senate TED budget writers still unresolved on DEO funding

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House and Senate budget conferees remain some distance away from reconciling their varying budget proposals, with a nominal $8 million and several line items standing between lawmakers and a unified budget proposal to send to Gov. Rick Scott.

The elephant in the room? Neither proposal circulating in the Conference Committee on House Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations/Senate Transportation, Tourism, & Economic Development has any money allocated for the $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund that insiders say is Scott’s No. 1 priority, perhaps even more so than the $1 billion tax package Scott and House Republicans have touted since before Session.

Conference committee Vice Chairman Sen. Jack Latvala said Friday that denying the funding would be “unconscionable.”

“To zero out this category is insulting and demeaning,” Latvala said after House budget chief Rep. Richard Corcoran observed nonchalantly he had no intention of meeting the governor’s request.

That issue will most likely be “bumped up” to Corcoran and Senate counterpart Tom Lee, who will be charged with sorting out unresolved issues after conferees complete their work at 6 p.m. Monday barring extensions.
Conferees did, however, close out outstanding issues with Department of State funding and agreed on $127.4 million for affordable housing programs, though there was still ambiguity about just how it would be spent.
Latvala said conferees were in for a “tough haul” when it comes to settling on DEO funding. Latvala has become something of a booster for Scott’s DEO priorities of late, after years of bickering with the governor and several of his appointees for a lack of deference to the Legislature.

Latvala and committee Chairman Rep. Clay Ingram indicated the TED conference committee would meet again Sunday evening at about 8 p.m.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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