Scott’s budget gets another gentle review — this time from Senateby John Kennedy | February 6th, 2013
A day after the House budget committee gave Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed $74.2 billion state spending plan a mostly gentle review, its Senate counterpart followed suit Wednesday — although a few stylistic differences emerged.
Senators seemed more concerned than the House about the state maintaining fat reserve funds — a particular focus of Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart.
Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, also extracted an acknowledgement from Scott budget director Jerry McDaniel that the Legislature could move forward with a funding boost for Florida State University similar to the $15 million extra the governor wants for University of Florida to help it achieve top 1o ranking by academic reviewers.
McDaniel also pledged that Scott’s plan for $2,500 pay increases for teachers would not interfere with local collective bargaining agreements between union representatives and county school boards.
Several counties have reached deals that require raises to be based on performance standards — which may affect how counties dole out the pay hikes sought by Scott.
“We recognize that some teachers may get $4,000; some may get $1,000,” McDaniel said.
Otherwise, the Senate panel followed a course similar to that cut Tuesday by the House budget panel. Democrats’ questions pivoted mostly on school funding and why Scott was not endorsing the Medicaid expansion authorized under the Affordable Care Act.
“We believe we have too many questions than answers,” McDaniel said, echoing comments he made a day earlier.
But McDaniel may have given some hope to health care advocates who have been looking for signs that Scott’s resistence is waning.
“He does not yet propose expansion,” McDaniel told the committee.