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Look who’s not talking: House-Senate not yet ready for budget work

by John Kennedy | February 27th, 2012

House budget chair Denise Grimsley gave House members a Monday morning update on how lawmakers are positioned for end-of-session negotitations with the Senate on a roughly $70 billion state spending plan.

In summary: Not-so-hot.

There’s no sign yet of the House and Senate agreeing on budget allocations — the first step toward working toward a consensus. The Senate approved its budget proposal last week, a plan that spends about $1.5 billion more than the House’s approach and includes dozens of individual spending differences.

But Grimsley, R-Sebring, said there remain plenty of hopeful signs heading into the Legislature’s scheduled final two weeks.

“We are far closer than we’ve been in several years,” Grimsley said.

In an unusual move, Grimsley also addressed Capitol hall-talk speculating that senators might be deliberately foot-dragging, or even looking to postpone budget negotiations until a later special session.  The House and Senate have grown increasingly at odds, nudging along plenty of suspicions.

Her counterpart, Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, is a hardnosed deal-maker. But Grimsley said she has no reason to suspect he’s fueling those rumors.

“I have seen no indication that Senator Alexander shares that view,” Grimsley said.

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