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Lack of Florida state budget leaves some in limbo

Budget expected to be completed June 20

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Lawmakers will be back at the Capitol in a little over two weeks to finish what they need to do and pass a state budget, but a lot of people have been left hanging in the meantime.

The budget is expected to be completed June 20. That gives Gov. Rick Scott 10 days to review it before the current year's budget expires July 1.

Schools would typically be taking the time after legislative session to be crafting their own budgets for the next school year. But the lack of state budget has left districts in limbo and are causing them to speculate.

"The majority of schools are working on what you and I would probably call a continuation budget, which means their starting assumption is, 'What if nothing changes?' and, 'What if we have exactly the same budget that we had last year?'" said Florida School Boards Association interim executive director Bill Graham.

The Florida School Boards Association said that if the assumption holds true, per pupil funding will be far from the record spending that was promised.

"It means that they probably start with less per student or their jargon per FTE, because the enrollment increases during the current school year that ends June 30 actually exceeded original forecasts," Graham said.

The lack of a budget has also left critical social service agencies hanging as well.

Mike Watkins, with child welfare agency Big Bend Community Based Care, said he expects critical services like his will be fine. But they'll still be scrambling at the end of June.

"The cost is that we're probably going to get a budget at the 11th hour, and we will be working with the executive branch and the Department of Children and Families to try to maximize the allocation the Legislature passes," Watkins said. "We're going to be doing this in the middle of the night."

Lawmakers start working on the budget June 1.