The House and Senate were on the brink Tuesday evening of agreeing to a framework for negotiating s budget deal, House Speaker Richard Corcoran told the House.
“We are very, very, very close to having allocations agreed to with the Senate,” Corcoran announced from the speaker’s podium, drawing cheers from the members.
“And I mean close in the hand grenades sense, not the horseshoe sense,” he said.
“To the extent that happens imminently, we’ll appoint conferees and make announcements, and it’s very likely we’ll start (conference) tonight.”
“We made some headway, so we’re hoping on being able to get out of here. Hopefully, we’ll have a deal within the next hour,” House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo said. “It’s 4 o’clock right now. Hopefully, at 6, 6:30, we’ll have our welcome and start caucusing.”
He was over-optimistic — Katie Betta, Senate President Joe Negron‘s spokeswoman, said several hours later that there would be no conference that night.
Trujillo’s committee that morning had voted along party lines to approve a “standard operating budget,” or contingency budget, adhering mostly to the budget the Legislature approved last year for the existing fiscal year.
The plan then was to let the Rules Committee decide whether to calendar that budget.
“I think they meet in the next half-hour, so I don’t think they’re going to calendar it at this point,” Trujillo said.
Details, including the future of Senate President Joe Negron’s ambitious Lake Okeechobee plan, state worker pay raises, and the House ‘Schools of Hope’ bill, remain to be worked out, he said.
The Senate had ruled out passing a contingency budget over the weekend. By midafternoon Tuesday, the House had sent a new offer across the rotunda, which the Senate was reviewing, according to staffers in both chambers.