Vote teed up on $91.1B state budget

Lawmakers from Northeast Florida seem confident in budget

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers are expected to vote Saturday afternoon on a $91.1 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The budget was distributed at 1:32 p.m. Wednesday, triggering the start of a constitutionally required 72-hour “cooling off” period before the House and Senate can vote on it. That will force lawmakers to extend the annual legislative session, which was scheduled to end Friday.

House and Senate negotiators finalized details of the spending plan Tuesday night, but House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, said it took time to compile and complete the 448-page budget.  

"The final details are always very difficult, and the staff works diligently, but there's just so many details to cover,” Oliva said early Wednesday morning after a floor session.

Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, told senators Wednesday that he expected a vote Saturday before ending the session -- known as adjourning “sine die” in the Capitol.

“With a conversation that I had with the speaker, we believe that if we can come back on Saturday and finish our business and sine die, that is going to be the most efficient use of our time,” Galvano said.

The overall $91.1 billion total is slightly less than a $91.3 billion plan proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. It is higher than the House’s initial $89.9 billion budget proposal and the Senate’s $90.3 billion proposal.

Lawmakers from Northeast Florida seemed confident in the budget. 

"(It's) day 57, so we're about to bring it in for a landing," said Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach. "Everybody was holding their breath for our budget to actually be published."

With the budget document delivered, members of the House and Senate continue to decide on the hundreds of other bills going through the legislative process. What’s proposed can be altered or amended, but what Northeast Florida lawmakers see so far makes them happy.

"I think we're in a really good position. We have (House Appropriations Chairman) Travis Cummings and (Senate Appropriations Chairman) Rob Bradley, both from Northeast Florida, who kind of, you know, headed up the process in the House and Senate and have gotten really good direction from presiding officers," said Rep. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville. "So I think we brought it in for a good landing."

Bean believes they have come to a consensus on the things that are really important to the people of Florida, including residents of the Jacksonville area.

"I just spoke to an elementary class and told them there's never enough time. Sixty days, it goes by fast. Are you going to get everything you want? You're not. But if we can help Jacksonville and Northeast Florida get its share, then I think we've done our job to voice your opinion on all of the bills."

Yarborough showed News4Jax at least 15 items in the budget that he believes make an impact directly on Northeast Florida, including money for pedestrian crossing safety in Jacksonville.

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