The Florida House is allocating $2 ½ billion less than the $30.3 billion state economists are forecasting for general revenue next year, according to allocations for next year’s budget released on Friday.
That means the House is socking away for reserves and a tax cut package that House Speaker Steve Crisafulli says will exceed $500 million. But how much more than $500 million?
Well, last year, the House reserved $1 ½ billion for reserves. It that holds this year, then its tax package will have enough spare change to at least match Gov. Rick Scott’s $673 million that he proposes to cut.
But that also assumes the House won’t have to adjust for losing at least $1.3 billion that helps hospitals pay the costs of treating uninsured, under-insured and Medicaid patients. A federal official said last month that the Low Income Pool (LIP) program won’t get renewed next year, prompting the Senate to consider the expansion of Medicaid to ease the burden on hospitals who lose the money.
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House leaders, at least so far, won’t consider expansion. And, so far at least, they don’t consider the loss of LIP revenue a likely outcome.
“I have faith that they’re going to (renew) it,” said House Appropriations Chair Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity. “All of this is hysteria because one guy said LIP won’t exist, but he didn’t say the funding was going away. And expanding Medicaid has nothing to do with LIP. California expanded Medicaid and still gets LIP.”
But because the House assumes the LIP money will get renewed, somehow someway, its allocations should be much different than the Senate’s, particularly in regard to that tax cut. The Senate's Appropriations Chair, Tom Lee, R-Brandon, has said that Scott's tax cut proposal was in doubt because of the LIP situation.
Katie Betta, spokesman for Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said the that chamber’s budget should be printed by the end of next week. Allocations typically aren’t released earlier in the Senate because the presidents like to give the chairs more flexibility in finding in appropriating money, she said.