Florida Lawmakers Three Week Legislative Session

Florida lawmakers returned to Tallahassee on Tuesday for a special session due to an undecided state budget by lawmakers.

The House and Senate were unable to reach a budget during the regular session and the main unresolved issue was how to expand on healthcare.

“It’s still Medicaid expansion,”  Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told reporters. “It uses the Medicaid population, it uses the Medicaid dollars, and it uses the program rules. It’s Medicaid expansion.”

On Tuesday,  a $400 million tax cut package was approved which reduces the taxes on cell phone bills, compared to the $600 million bill passed during the regular session.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee stated that he felt Floridians were frustrated with there being no quantitative analysis that is relied upon. Lee also had concerns that those in charge of the budget had little to no concern of solving the issue.

The tax cut will save residents an estimated 83 cents on cellular phones and cable bills a month, which averages to around to $10 a year. This is an estimated $200 million savings across the state of Florida.

”The best way we can be a steward of that dollar is to send as much money back to them as we possibly can,” said Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Fort Myers.

State Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee made an effort to transfer the budget cut to state employee pay raises. That would cover a 3% pay raise for employees across the state.

His efforts include making sure state employees are not shafted when a final budget is made.

"I think you'd see greater revenue return with state employees getting a raise and going out and spending it in the economy,” said Williams.

The session continues for three weeks with a vote in the House on Medicare this Friday.