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Rick Scott working on a new 2015-16 spending plan, ‘base’ budget

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Gov. Rick Scott said on Tuesday that he’s working on a base, or continuation budget, for the upcoming year.

“I’m looking at special session, I’m looking at a base budget, I’m working on our own base budget because I want to make sure our state continues to operate after June 30.”

The Legislature is charged with annually crafting the state’s operating budget and passing the budget. Florida law requires the governor to submit his proposed spending plan and submit copies of it to the Legislature but the governor cannot appropriate or reduce budgets. That requires the Legislature or an arm of the Legislature known as the Legislative Budget Commission.

The governor is allowed to amend budget recommendations and is required to amend the proposed recommendations if the governor determines at any time that the revenues the initial proposed budget was based on are insufficient. Any changes also are required to be submitted to the Legislature.

Scott included in his proposed budget $2 billion in Low Income Pool dollars even though they were not authorized beyond June 30, 2015. Scott downplayed at the time the notion that the LIP money wouldn’t be forthcoming.

The Legislature adjourned the 2015 regular legislative session without passing the one bill it’s required to pass: the General Appropriations Act. The House of Representatives and the Senate were more than $4 billion apart in proposed spending plans, because the Senate included the continuation of the Low Income Pool money along with a proposed Medicaid expansion in its budget for the upcoming year. The House didn’t include any of the additional federal dollars in its budget.

Both the Medicaid expansion and the continuation of the Low Income Pool need approval from the federal government. Negotiations between the state and federal government soured this spring and Florida was not given an estimated amount it could expect to receive in additional Medicaid dollars. Without the figure the Legislature couldn’t agree on a spending plan.

James Call contributed to this story

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