It’s the first week of session and there are a hundred things going on at once. Here is what I see as I scroll down my news feed.


Hospitals should start to worry

When Gov. Rick Scott came out with his budget proposal and it included $929 million in cuts to hospitals, I told advocates not to panic yet. The governor’s budget is merely a suggestion to the House and Senate. Often when it comes to the nitty gritty of putting together a spending plan, the Legislature does its own thing.

Now that the House and the Senate have had preliminary discussions about the budget, my opinion has changed. It’s no longer a question of whether hospitals will experience funding cuts through the Medicaid program, it’s how much.

The Senate is looking at a $308-million reduction, for example.

It’s too early to say what the final numbers will be and how those cuts will be distributed across hundreds of hospitals in Florida. One question lawmakers will face is whether safety-net hospitals like University of Florida Health Jacksonville should be protected.

Republican tangles with nra activists

Sen. Anitere Flores’ phone has been ringing, she’s received emails and negative comments on Facebook and gun-rights advocates are stopping by her office in Tallahassee to express their outrage. This is what happens when the National Rifle Association puts a memo out to its supporters with the subject, “Sen. Anitere Flores Turns on Law-abiding Gun Owners.”

Flores, a Miami Republican, serves in a moderate district and has never been a vocal gun supporter. But she riled up the NRA when she announced last week that she would not support a slew of gun bills, effectively teaming up with Democrats on a key committee to kill open carry and campus carry among other proposals.

But I don’t think the NRA treatment Flores is receiving is about her. Her mind isn’t changing. But it serves as an example to other lawmakers about what happens when you oppose gun-rights bills, and it may be enough to change someone else’s mind in the future.

Dueling perspectives on higher education

One of Senate President Joe Negron’s priorities this year is higher education, specifically the 12 state universities. He wants to give them more money for performance funding, scholarships, teacher retention and more.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when during a House budget committee hearing last week the state universities were dressed down a bit. They fielded criticism for how much they pay presidents and athletic coaches and how much money their fundraising arms dole out in executive salaries.

It was just talk, for now. And the House’s M.O. these days is to take a tough stance on an issue at first then compromise later. But I’ll be watching to see how state universities fare when it’s budget time. If the House and Senate are too far apart, it could be another area where compromise becomes difficult.