Budget Watch - Comparing the House and Senate Budgets
The House and Senate have passed their respective budgets and now must hold budget conference meetings to negotiate the differences. Agreement must be reached on every number and every word in the 400-plus page appropriations bill. Since lawmakers are constitutionally required to wait 72 hours before a final vote, a mutually agreed-upon budget must be produced by Tuesday, April 27 in order for an on-time finish of the session on Friday, April 30.
THE BUDGET IN CONTEXT
- The Senate budget (SB 2500) totals $95.0 billion while the House (HB 5001) comes in at $97.1 billion.
- The House budget is $4.8 billion more than current year spending, the Senate’s is about $2.7 billion more. The increase is due to federal funds (but no American Rescue Plan funds). Both chambers use approximately $2 billion in increased federal Medicaid funding.
- There is little change in general revenue spending. The House spends $161 million (0.5%) more than current year, the Senate only $4 million more.
- Not counting federal education funds that the House uses but the Senate does not, both budgets are about $2.5 billion less (approximately $1 billion less in GR) than the Governor’s budget recommendations.
Despite the $2.1 billion difference in the chambers’ bottom lines, they are not that far apart. The difference in the bottom lines is largely due to the House’s use of $2 billion in Elementary and Secondary Emergency Education Relief (ESSER) Funding from the federal government.
But as usual, there are some significant differences in the details. The use of federal funds will be one of the major issues of the conference, especially the $10 billion Florida will get from the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund. Florida will get also get $7 billion in ESSER funds. Except for the $2 billion in ESSER funds mentioned above, none of these stimulus funds are included in either chamber’s budget total (see Federal Stimulus Funds on page 8). If the chambers decide to appropriate some of the ARP funds, Florida could see its first $100 billion budget.