Clock ticking for lawmakers to reach state budget agreement


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Lawmakers have gone home with a multi-billion dollar disagreement hanging over their heads as the state inches closer to beginning the next fiscal year without a budget.

The state budget includes funding for things like hospitals, schools, and transportation. If there's not one in place by July 1, some programs could be forced to make cuts.

The state is also working with a $1.8 billion surplus this year.

Gov. Rick Scott opened May's Florida cabinet meeting by applauding his latest lawsuit against the president.

"It's wrong for the federal government to coerce us by ending a Low Income Pool for low income families to try to coerce us to expand Obamacare," Scott said.

The battle over healthcare money forced lawmakers to adjourn this year's regular session without a budget.

Florida's current fiscal plan is good until June 30. If there's nothing in place by July 1, the state could face a government shutdown similar to federal one in 2013.

Even though the clock is ticking, agency heads aren't sounding the alarms yet.

"At the very least, we'll fund programs like re-employment assistance, which is essential to citizens across the state," said Jesse Panuccio, of the Department of Economic Opportunity. "But we are looking at what would happen, of course, and being responsible. But I'm pretty confident we'll have on July 1 the funds we'll need to keep operating."

Ash Williams was with the State Board of Administration in 1992, the last time Florida was this close to not having a budget.

"There's a focus on what are critical services, what cannot be interrupted and how can we make sure we have continuous service, particularly in the realm of public safety and health," Williams said.

The governor says he's working on a plan for lawmakers

"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 the state continues to operate after June 30," Scott said.

There's no date for a special session yet, but Florida is still on the clock.