Gov. Rick Scott sent a memo to his agencies on Thursday asking them to compile a list of services people cannot lose and identifying what would be funded in a pared back budget he’s developing for the upcoming year.
Scott has refused to directly answer, though, whether he’ll be submitting the information he compiles with the Florida Legislature for consideration when it goes into a special budget session, now tentatively scheduled for June 1-20.
“The Legislature drafts the budget, but this will give us an idea of what priorities must be funded and what critical services need to run past June 30,” said Scott’s communications staff in an email.
And Scott’s representatives told The Associated Press he would not be submitting the budget to the Legislature.
But if he isn’t presenting it to the Legislature, what will he do with the information?
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Tom Lee told Florida Politics on Wednesday that Scott was considering issuing a call for a prescriptive budget.
Lee, the Senate’s leading budget negotiator, said he advised Scott that “unless you want to create more conflict, potentially with the Democrats, or whoever, you need to be careful that you are not attempting to put too many limitations on what goes in the four corners of that budget, because that is the prerogative of the Florida Legislature.”
In a memo to agency heads on Thursday, Scott requested a list of critical services that the Office of Planning and Budgeting identified for the upcoming fiscal year, “in the event Florida is forced into a government shutdown on July 1.”
Scott is pushing ahead with a base budget despite Lee’s suggestion that the House and Senate will craft a budget the traditional way, including agreed-upon allocations and public meetings where offers are made between conferees.
The Florida Legislature adjourned the 2015 session without passing the one constitutionally mandated bill: the budget, or General Appropriations Act, as it is officially known .
The House and Senate could not bridge a $4 billion gap in their respective spending plans, an impasse caused when the Senate called for accepting federal Medicaid dollars to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, as well as continuation of the $2.2 billion Low-Income Pool program.
Scott steadily maintains that since the Legislature left Tallahassee, he will work on a state “continuation” or “base” budget, to avoid a government shutdown.
Senate spokesperson Katie Betta issued a statement Thursday night saying President Andy Gardiner is pleased with the progress that Lee and Corcoran made and is committed to passing a balanced budget by June 30.
“Florida’s Constitution assigns the role of developing a state budget to the Legislature,” Betta said in a statement. “The President has outlined his version of a draft proclamation for the special session and is hopeful that he and Speaker Crisafulli can finalize the proclamation within the next few days.”