House, Senate and Governor face off over budget stalemate

The 2015 Legislative Session abruptly ended without passing a constitutionally required budget. Now, all sides are facing off as they decide how to proceed. The Senate Democrats filed an emergency petition with the Florida Supreme Court arguing that the House violated the state constitution when they abruptly adjourned without notice. The House sharply disagreed. Senate President Andy Gardiner proposed a three week special session to write and pass a budget.

After many days of silence and threats to kill senators’ bills, Gov. Scott issued a statement Thursday that called on the Legislature to immediately resume work on the state budget in time for the July 1 start of a new fiscal year. Legislators answered with a collective yawn, as neither chamber responded.

Scott’s statement raised side issues such as his support for a statewide commission to study hospital profits and his view that Florida should abolish a certificate of need process that requires state approvals before hospitals can add new beds. Scott used the word “Obamacare” six times in his eight-paragraph statement and he sided with the House, which insists that any talk of health care expansion be held separately from the budget; the Senate says they are connected.

“We should begin preparing a budget in the interim that could be taken up in a special session,” Scott said, “without any (low-income pool hospital) funding and without any expansion of Obamacare.”

In contrast to Scott’s statement, Gardiner floated the idea of a special session from June 1 to 20 to pass a budget and to consider the Senate’s Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange to help offset the phasing out of the low income pool (LIP) that reimburses hospitals for charity care to uninsured patients. The House opposes the exchange.

Read the full article on the Tampa Bay Times and stay tuned…