A bruising budget battle that divided Republicans in the Florida Legislature is over for now, but the truce is likely only to last a few months.
Legislators passed a nearly $79 billion budget Friday with just days to spare. Legislators had until July 1 to pass a budget or state government would have been partially shut down. They didn’t pass a budget during their regular session because they were divided over health care spending. That sparked a stalemate — and finger-pointing will remain when legislators return for their 2016 session.
“It’s kind of the new norm,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner, who works as an executive at an Orlando-area hospital. “Until we come up with a long term health care solution for the uninsured that’s just going to be where we are.”
The main problem is that state legislators this year dipped into a budget surplus and steered it to the state’s hospitals to replace dwindling federal aid that had been paid to the hospitals to treat the poor and uninsured.
They only did that after the Senate and House tangled over whether to expand health care coverage to as many as 500,000 Floridians in order to draw down billions associated with President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.