Legislative Update: Regular Session Ends Without Resolution On State Budget

By  //  May 4, 2015

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Legislative Session Update

On Tuesday, Florida Senators concluded the business of the Florida House for the 2015 Legislative Session.

On Tuesday, Florida Senators concluded the business of the Florida House for the 2015 Legislative Session.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – On Tuesday, we concluded the business of the Florida House for the 2015 Legislative Session.

While this regular session ended without resolution on the state budget, we still were able to accomplish a great deal for our state.

However, I want to take this opportunity to explain why I believe it was necessary to adjourn prior to May 1.

As you may be aware, ongoing negotiations with the Obama Administration over the future of the Low Income Pool (LIP) program and the debate over expanding Medicaid under Obamacare have prevented the House and Senate from completing our work on the state budget.

LIP is a federal program that provides $1.3 billion to hospitals and other providers, using additional local matching dollars.

It was approved in 2006 to replace a prior program, in place for decades.

Last year, the federal government told us that LIP needs to end in its current form, yet gave no guidance about what a new program should look like.

Steve Crisafulli

Steve Crisafulli

Florida entered into talks with the federal government. Months later, the state was suddenly told that continued LIP funding is linked to Medicaid expansion.

The implication is that if we don’t expand, we won’t get LIP funds.

While the House believes the state budget and ongoing negotiations over LIP should be separate from the debate over Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, the Senate believes that these issues should be addressed together.

Recognizing that this is a process based on two equal legislative partners, the House submitted multiple legitimate offers to begin budget negotiations which demonstrated a willingness to address the Senate’s stated positions by setting aside state moneys as a contingency fund pending the outcome of the talks with the federal government over LIP.

However, the Senate disagreed and continued to assert the demand that the House agree to include Medicaid expansion as part of the budget negotiations.

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With the budget negotiations at an impasse and our policy work complete, the House adjourned Sine Die so the Legislature could reset for a Special Session to address the budget before July 1, 2015.

Aside from the state budget, the House passed hundreds of pieces of legislation this session and successfully achieved the goals of our Work Plan 2015 joint agenda.

I am proud of our work to pass a $690 million tax cut package; comprehensive water policy; a transparent Amendment 1 funding structure; education reforms that reduce testing, lower tuition, and improve our schools; legislation to increase adoptions; and legislation to empower individuals with disabilities.

I am very proud of the work we accomplished this Session, and I look forward to returning to Tallahassee with a clean slate to fulfilling our constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget.

I will continue to keep you up-to-date as we receive further information. As always, thank you for your confidence in my service. It is an honor and a privilege to serve our district in Tallahassee.

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Earlier this week, I penned an op-ed outlining the Florida House’s principled opposition to Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Florida.

States have the option to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. We believe Medicaid is a broken system that fails to provide quality healthcare and comes with inflexible federal mandates that are not in the best interest of our state.

We oppose expanding Medicaid because it is a broken system with poor health outcomes, high inflation, unseverable federal strings and no incentive for personal responsibility for those who are able to provide for themselves.

Under current law, Florida provides for our most vulnerable: low-income children, low-income pregnant women, low-income elderly and low-income disabled people.

Earlier this week, I penned an op-ed outlining the Florida House’s principled opposition to Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Florida.

Under federal law, other low-income Floridians have access to healthcare subsidies to buy private insurance for less than the average cost of a wireless phone bill.

In fact, if we choose ObamaCare expansion, 600,000 Floridians will lose eligibility for their subsidies, of which 257,000 would be forced into Medicaid.

Those who claim we should expand Medicaid to get Florida’s money back should note that we already receive over $15 billion more each year than we send to Washington.

It’s deficit spending. The national debt burden today is $145,000 per household.

Medicaid expansion would not be financed with the hard-earned dollars we have already sent to Washington – it would be financed by mortgaging our children’s and grandchildren’s future.

And, nothing should give us more pause than the current situation the Obama Administration has put our state in by refusing to renegotiate our state’s Low Income Pool program in an attempt to force Florida to expand Medicaid.

They are essentially leaving our state on the hook for over a billion dollars in an attempt to get a specific policy outcome.

This paralysis caused by the Obama Administration should give all Floridians pause about the proper role of the federal government in our state’s affairs and in our lives.

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