Haridopolos: ‘There’s still some work to do’ before budget talks can beginby Dara Kam | February 27th, 2012
Differences about spending on road-building projects and whether to sweep state universities’ savings are the main sticking points in GOP House and Senate leaders’ budget talks, quietly going on before the conference committees begin to meet.
The House wants to take $120 million from the state transportation trust fund and put it into general revenue while the Senate is sweeping $400 million from state universities. And the Senate agreed to create a 12th state university by allowing the University of South Florida Polytechnic to split from its mother school, a priority of Senate budget chief JD Alexander.
Senate President Mike Haridopolos said those are the main kinks in the budget talks thus far.
Haridopolos and Alexander worked with their House counterparts throughout the weekend to try to get to a preliminary agreement, Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said on the floor this morning.
Haridopolos said he and Cannon did not meet in person, and that the talks are “moving us in the right direction” but gave no indication when the budget conference meetings would officially begin. House budget chairwoman Denise Grimsley told her chamber talks are progressing.
“There’s still some work to do,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, told reporters after the morning session. “I expect that to be ironed out hopefully today, maybe over the next few days, but we’re going to get it right…The Senate has some priorities. And we want to make sure those priorities are met.”
Talks are “moving at a good pace,” Haridopolos said, but opened the door for doubt when he added “I’m looking forward to our last couple weeks up here in Tallahassee and if we can get out here on time.”
When pressed, Haridopolos said: “I’d love to get out on time. But we’re going to do it right.”
Adding to the session complexity is what the Florida Supreme Court will do with redrawn legislative maps and another court case over the 3 percent state workers must now contribute to their pensions.
The Supreme Court has scheduled until the last day of session to rule on the maps, and a Tallahassee judge was supposed to issue a ruling in the pension case on Friday but delayed that.