By the time you read this, Florida lawmakers may have a proposed budget agreement. That's how fast multi-billion dollar decisions are made in the final hours of the Florida legislative session.
The state budget needs to land by late Tuesday in order for legislators to vote on it by Friday, the scheduled end of the regularly scheduled 2017 session. If there's a spending plan that passes the House and Senate and Gov. Rick Scott agrees to it, there won't be a need for a special session to come up with the budget before the beginning of the next fiscal year in July.
But the governor's signature is not a given. Leaders of the House and Senate have found middle ground on the total amount of spending -- about $83 billion dollars. That’s in the neighborhood of what Gov. Scott proposed spending on state operations, but how the governor wants to spend some of that money is very different than how his Republican colleagues in the legislature want to spend the money. Gov. Scott wants to state to spend on his top economic priorities: funding job incentives for Enterprise Florida and money for Visit Florida to market the state to tourists.
It’s a matter of priorities and the final decisions could have an impact on the state’s economy -- from tourism to taxes.
WLRN spoke with three veteran Florida statehouse reporters in the final hours as the budget deadline approached.
• Gary Fineout, AP
• Steve Bousquet, Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times
• Kristen Clark, Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times