The Legislature’s two budget chiefs met all day Wednesday to discuss ways to compromise on the impasse on Medicaid expansion, but don’t expect any breakthroughs, at least not yet.
House Appropriations Chair Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes said Wednesday’s meeting in the Capitol with Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, was “super productive.”
But he also said it was “too early to say” when asked what, if any, common ground was reached. Lee and the Senate want to use federal Medicaid money to expand healthcare coverage; Corcoran and the House oppose that plan. That disagreement has held up a wider agreement on the state’s $80 billion budget. Lawmakers are scheduled to meet in the first three weeks of June during a special session to approve a budget. State government isn't threatened with running out of money until July 1, when the new budget year begins.
“The best part, from the House standpoint, was that it was the first real negotiation where there was give-and-take,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran did say he and Lee agree that both want a budget. A good thing, perhaps, for two budget chairs to agree on. But he hinted that desire might trump coming to a resolution on Medicaid expansion during the special session.
Asked if a discussion on expansion might be put off for a later date, perhaps at another special session, Corcoran replied that it was a “potential compromise and endgame.”
His negotiating partner, Lee, couldn’t be reached. Lee told the Associated Press that "a fair amount of progress" had been made Wednesday. Corcoran said Lee was joining him for wine and cigars later that night. He said, however, no major breakthroughs were expected at this gathering.
“It’ll be more social,” he said. “We won’t talk business.”