In a work week shortened by the Passover and Easter holidays, the Florida House and Senate passed their respective budget plans on March 31 and April 1, 2010. The Senate unanimously passed its $69.4 billion spending plan for the 2010 – 2011 fiscal year, while the House passed its $67.2 billion plan on a party line vote of 77 to 44. The two chambers are now in a posture to begin negotiations to resolve the $2.2-billion gap.
The Senate plan counts on two revenue sources that are not in the House budget: an additional $880 million in federal Medicaid funding, which has not yet been appropriated by the U.S. Congress, and $412 million in revenues from a Seminole Indian gaming compact.
One of the major areas of difference is public education, where the Senate would raise per-pupil expenditures by $38.86, and the House would cut per-pupil expenditures by $52. In the area of environmental protection, the Senate provides $15 million for the Florida Forever land-purchase program and $10 million for Everglades restoration; the House provides no funding for either of these activities.
The House also cuts affordable housing funding by $174 million, state payments to hospitals by $171 million, and funding for public libraries by $8.5 million.
Both budget plans propose to reduce state payroll costs. The House's approach is to require each state agency to cut payroll by three percent. The Senate eliminates free health insurance coverage for state employees, but the state would still cover 90 percent of health insurance premiums under the Senate plan.
The Senate budget also includes major changes to Medicaid, which currently accounts for more than 25 percent of state spending. Under the Senate plan, 274,671 Medicaid recipients in 19 counties would be moved into health maintenance organizations, generating a savings of $28.6 million in 2010 – 2011 and savings of more than $100 million a year in later years