Florida agencies are being asked to compile a list of critical services that people “cannot lose” by Monday and submit them to the governor’s office to help prepare a budget for the upcoming 2015-16 year.
Scott sent a memo out to agency heads identifying a list of critical services that the Office of Planning and Budgeting has identified for the upcoming year, beginning July 1. Those services include increased funding for K-12 enrollment; Medicaid caseload increase; a Department of Transportation Work Plan minimum operating requirements necessary to keep the Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee running and Environmental initiatives consistent with Amendment One, and economic development and housing at the current level funding, among other things to be funded in a base budget.
Scott wants the agencies to prepare a list of critical services they deem are important “in the event Florida is forced into a government showdown on July 1,” according to the memo.
The governor sent the memo out after budget leaders from the House and Senate held an all-day meeting to discuss how the Florida Legislature can move ahead on the 2015-16 spending plan. Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee said that he and Richard Corcoran had discussed the base budget approach Scott keeps discussing but also discussed a traditional budget where the chambers agreed to allocations and meet in conference to develop the spending plan. Lee told Florida Politics that the Legislature was leaning toward a traditional budget and not the base budget the governor contemplates.
The governor also notes that Senate President Andy Gardiner could be the reason the state faces a shutdown. “It is possible that Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner and the Florida Senate will not agree to any budget without the specific expansion of Medicaid (at a cost to state taxpayers of $5 billion over 10 years),” Scott puts in the letter.
The Florida Legislature adjourned the 2015 session without passing the one must-pass bill: the General Appropriations Act, or the budget. The House of Representatives and Florida Senate could not bridge a $4 billion difference in their spending plans, an impasse caused by the Senate accepting federal Medicaid dollars for expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare and the continuation of the $2.2 billion Low Income Pool program.
Scott has consistently said since the Legislature left Tallahassee that he is working on a “continuation” or “base” budget for the state to avoid a government shutdown.