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Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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House, Senate don’t see eye-to-eye on member-requested projects

The House and Senate are roughly $30 million apart on lawmaker-requested projects as final negotiations have begun.

The Senate made its first offer to align with the House budget today, but includes no funding for roughly $26 million for projects included in the House plan. The House’s budget left out $30 for projects requested by members of the Senate.

It’s common for pet projects requested by lawmakers to be used as negotiating chips by both sides as final budget negotiations heat up.

Overall, both chambers crafted $11.6 billion plans, with the Senate’s first offer roughly $40 million less than the House plan.

The biggest earmark fight is $10 million the House wants for SkyRise Miami, a 1,000 foot tower being proposed by a Miami developer.

Other earmarks funded by the House, but not the Senate, include:

♦ $1.5 million for the airport in Lakeland, the hometown of House budget chief Seth McKeel,

♦ $200,000 for the Hialeah Chamber of Commerce,

♦ $100,000 for the Ponder House in St. Petersburg.

Money in the House plan not included in the Senate’s spending blue-print includes:

♦ $500,000 for the Fort Myers McCollum Hall,

♦ $1 million for Circus Sarasota,

♦ $1 million for municipal docks in Wakulla County.

Budget-writers officially began negotiations Monday night with a brief organizational session and a handful of meetings.

Lawmakers will finalize a roughly $75 billion budget, but only $27 billion of that comes from the state’s general revenue fund, which lawmakers can do with as they please. Much of the state budget is federal money or tied to specific trust funds.

In order to pass the budget by the end of session on May 2, it will have to be hammered out by April 29 to accommodate the 72-hour “cooling off period.”