Senate budget-writers unveiled a spending plan late Monday that was $3.3 billion higher than its House counterpart, giving the clearest indicator yet of how far apart the chambers stand as the midpoint of the session nears.
The Senate plan weighs in at just shy of $69.8 billion and almost 125,200 full-time positions. That's larger than the $66.5 billion, 121,400-position blueprint unveiled by the House last week. Both plans would trim at least several hundred jobs from the state payroll, though it's not clear how many of those positions are filled. The current year's budget had more than 126,700 full-time positions.
House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, brushed off questions last week about government cutting jobs as the economy emerges from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
"Its primary purpose is not as an employer," Cannon said of government. "Its primary purpose is to create a framework where employers in the private sector can grow and create new jobs."
In general terms, the Senate places more funding in education, criminal justice and the broad category including natural resources, environment, growth management and transportation than does the House. The House plan includes more for human services and general government.
The largest difference is in the environment and transportation segment of the budget, in which the Senate included $12.3 billion to the House's $9.0 billion. Senate budget-writers included just shy of $21 billion in total funding for education, compared to about $19.8 billion in the House plan. The chambers are about $800 million apart on human services -- the Senate spends $28.4 billion to the House's $29.2 billion.