Lawmakers Generally Proud of Their Work on $74 Billion Budget
Around the State
State lawmakers are preparing to pass a $74 billion budget for next year -- a budget that includes an extra $1 billion for K-12 education, as well as raises for teachers and the first raise for state employees in seven years.
Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, opposes the budget because it does not address the issue of expanding health coverage for uninsured Floridians. “I am calling on the governor once again to veto the budget, have us come back whether it’s in a special session or not and then insert that health care coverage for those million-plus uninsured Floridians.”
Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, likes the budget because it ensures the state’s fiscal health. “I think that we take that responsibility very seriously and I couldn’t be more proud of the product that’s in front of you and the seriousness with which we have all taken our job in balancing this budget.”
Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, claims the budget overall is good, but he is concerned it doesn't include an expansion of health insurance. “As we leave today, we leave $51 billion, $51 billion on the table that we could use to provide 1.1 million people health care.”
Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, supports the budget because he says it emphasizes public safety. “I enthusiastically support this budget and I ask you to do the same and join me in voting for this budget.”
Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, admits he is disgusted. “A 102-year-old woman died on a wait list after three years. Waiting for someone to come help brush her teeth and comb her hair is I think pretty sad, and those wait lists by the way, they exist in this wonderful budget -- 35,000 people, 35,000 people that we just chose not to deal with.”
Erik Fresen, R-Miami urges colleagues to vote for budget. “Look at the fact that we have $480 million for teacher pay increases. We have over a billion dollars added to our K-12 system, we have restored university funding, increased college funding, increased early learning funding.”
Dave Heller is a Tallahassee freelance reporter/videographer.