Florida Legislature Reaches Deal to End Special Session

Increase in Education Funding, Hospitals Take Hit
Posted at 5:30 PM, Jun 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-09 18:20:57-04

The Florida legislature has agreed on a deal to end the special session.

This session came down to the 11th hour. The house, the senate, and the governor brokered a deal without raising taxes and still increasing education spending.

ABC Action News obtained a copy of the letter from House Speaker Richard Corcoran to Governor Rick Scott, revealing some of the inside, last minute negotiations unfolding in real time inside the state capital.

The speaker proposed improvements to the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee, something the governor wanted.

We also learned the senate did most of the compromising. Giving up on trying to get more money for hospitals -- which face deep cuts. 

The controversial education bill that diverts money to charter schools will pass. And the education budget passed with a $215-million dollar increase in state spending per student, which was requested by Governor Rick Scott. 

In fact, Governor Scott got most of what he wanted, because the legislature agreed to restore the budget of Visit Florida at $76 million and will create a new $85 million infrastructure the governor says he needs to bring companies to Florida.

USF Political Science professor Dr. Susan MacManus says the last minute compromise often happens as the political pressure increases in the final hours.

"Many of these legislators have one eye on the current legislature and another next year when they are going to be running for office again," she notes.

The good news out of all this for you is no property tax increase and more money for your kids in school.

School officials say they will still have to make more cuts they wanted. Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins has instituted a hiring freeze for now, and the School Board is considering other potential cuts. The school system describes the hardships they foresee, in part because of the state's budget, in a blog post here.

Those possible cuts include reductions in benefits, a pay freeze, and reducing spending on substitute teachers. More on the ideas being considered by the Hillsborough County School Board HERE.

Other Tampa Bay Area school boards say they may be facing similar cuts.