State budget negotiations on hold until Monday

Mar 10, 2008

Tallahassee Democrat--Mar. 8, 2008
By By Jim Ash

Negotiations over more than $500 million in cuts to the state’s nearly $70 billion budget for 2007-2008 were temporarily halted Friday, although a formal resolution is expected to come Monday.

The House passed a $518 million plan Wednesday, and the Senate followed suit Thursday with a $504 million plan. Both had agreed by Friday that the bulk of the cuts, $350 million, would come from public education. That means a 7 percent per student increase promised last year will be whittled to 4.5 percent.
Both sides agreed late Thursday that the state courts system would take a $47 million cut. A last minute, $2.5 million plan to allow prosecutors and public defenders to dip into locally administered funds that come from court fines is expected to stave off threatened furloughs.

Still to be resolved: a Senate proposal that would save the state $340 million a year by freezing annual increases in Medicaid reimbursement rates next year. The move alone would cost nursing homes $139 million.