By Christal Searcy
Florida legislators left a table filled with dozens of major bills unaccounted for on April 28 because of an impasse between the House and the Senate. It marked the first time in Florida’s modern history that one chamber shut down and went home on a different day than the other in a regular session according to adjournment dates back to 1971.
Florida’s budget is at an impasse because of disagreements on a bill to expand Medicaid.
Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee) believes a compromise could happen June 1 when legislators reconvene.
“A compromise that combines an adherence to fiscal discipline also that Speaker Crisafulli and Speaker Designate Corcoran demand and believe in strongly, with some creative way to increase access to quality healthcare at a reasonable or low cost to consumers,” said Vasilinda.
Vasilinda said a 2014 committee bill sponsored by Rep. Jose R. Oliva (R-Hialeah) had some aspects that could be a place to start a successful compromise.
“Special interest would have to take a back seat to consumers, the state, and nation with any truly successful compromise instead of driving the deal,” Vasilinda said.
Lawmakers have two major disputes: whether to expand health care to the uninsured and how to plug a $2 billion hole in funding to hospitals in Florida for caring for uninsured patients.
Legislative leaders and Gov. Rick Scott have three weeks to find common ground. If they don’t have a solution before they go back to the Capitol, things could get worse.
Rep. Alan B. Williams (D-Tallahassee) has alluded to what could happen if there’s another impasse.
“If we don’t get a budget passed it could impact the entire state of Florida. We won’t have the necessary funds come January 1 to pay payroll,” said Williams.
The last time House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island) spoke publicly, he sounded as if there was nothing more to be done at that time.“We didn’t get everything we wanted, and we won’t get everything that we hoped, but we have done all that we can do for this session,” he said April 28. He then told House members to go home “until the Senate decides they are ready to negotiate.”