"Florida lawmakers are planning to spend about $65 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1. That's about $5 billion less than this year."
Some of the differences include a $24 million cut in the Senate budget for community-based care agencies that provide homes for abused and neglected children. ..."House, Senate cut school, hospital budgets".
Both chambers would spend about $18.5 billion on public schools, about 1.5 percent less than this year. The House, however, would avoid a larger cut by shifting money away from transportation projects and the Senate would rely on a property tax increase.
In the Senate, Republicans stymied one Democratic amendment to increase corporate income taxes. Republicans also voted down a proposal from Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, to restore $804 million in health care cuts with a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes.
House Republicans quashed an amendment from Democrats to restore $282 million in cuts to Medicaid hospice and clinical services by dipping into state trust funds.
The Senate's 26-12 vote to pass a budget sets the stage for tough negotiations with the House, which is expected to pass its own spending plan for 2008-09 today. It also capped an emotional debate in which a handful of Republicans failed on a 22-16 vote to shift money from the CSX project to other programs."Legislative budget slashing heats up". See also Senate passes frugal budget with pay cuts for governor, lawmakers", "Senate budget bill cuts funds for the poor, elderly", "Senate passes $65.9B budget", "Senate passes $66B budget" and "Downsized state budget to be debated Thursday".
"House and Senate Democrats questioned many of the potential cuts, with some arguing that lawmakers should find additional taxes or tap into reserves to help avert cuts." "DBNJ: House, Senate prepare to battle over state budget".
The rich are different
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The rich are different everywhere. In Florida, the rich are especially different. They get tax breaks no one else can afford - blessed by the Legislature - even when the state faces severe budget cuts. Democrats want to close a loophole that lets wealthy investors save millions by avoiding a real-estate tax that average home buyers pay. Some Republicans worry that such a change would be a tax increase, in which case they would have to refuse. Only in the Legislature can they argue that forcing the rich to pay the same taxes as everyone else would amount to a tax hike." "Set same rule for rich".
Raul Martinez on a roll
"In a rare feat for a challenger, former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez slightly outraised U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart in the first three months of 2008." "Martinez's fundraising outpaces rival Diaz-Balart's".
Adam Smith: "Here's a simple, logical way to give Florida a voice in the Democratic presidential nomination: Barack Obama could join Hillary Rodham Clinton in calling for their national party to count the 1.75-million Democratic votes in Florida's disqualified Jan. 29 primary. But it's not that simple." "No simple solutions". See also "Race is still too close for Obama to give in on Florida delegates".
Chamber loses out to NRA
"Legislature: It's okay to bring a gun to work".
Stop the Presses!
Saint Marco takes a tiny bit of heat from the St Pete Times editors:
Nowhere in House Speaker Marco Rubio's book of "100 Innovative Ideas" did he call for giving a state transportation contract to one of his Miami friends. Maybe that's why Rubio tried to avoid an untidy public debate by slipping a few instructive words into his chamber's 366-page appropriations bill."Rubio's cozy favor uncovered".
Charlie "'fighting' for 'the boss'"
"Like his victorious drive to pass the Amendment 1 property tax cut on the ballot in January, Crist is on the road again 'fighting' for 'the boss,' the people who he says once again desperately need help. He's visiting newspaper editorial boards and holding public events to tout his ideas." "With taxes tamed, Crist turns to health insurance".
"Commuter rail plan survives in Florida Senate budget": "But some questioned spending $650 million-plus on the train project in the face of likely cuts to courts and social services."
Raw political courage
"A proposed state constitutional amendment being sought by House Speaker Marco Rubio to cut property taxes an estimated 20 percent won initial committee approval in both chambers." "Property tax amendment clears committee".
"Sen. Mel Martinez is urging NASA to talk with the Air Force about using one of the military's unused launch facilities for the space agency's proposed new commercial launch complex." "Senator pushes NASA on launch site".
Too good to be true
"The state would get 2,200 acres of land for free. Lake Okeechobee could be cleaner. Palm Beach County could have an emergency source of water. It all sounds very exciting. At this point, it also sounds too good for the South Florida Water Management District board to believe." "Enviro-friendly mine? Dig just a little deeper".
The Orlando Sentinel editors argue that "State Rep. Cannon isn't doing enough to strengthen growth law".
This should last about two seconds: "Florida House proposal would freeze subsidies for pro-sports franchises".
The Miami Herald editors: "Like Energizer bunnies, bills relating to Cuba keep cropping up in the Legislature. Memo to lawmakers: Leave foreign policy to the federal government. Two years ago legislators banned state-university travel to Cuba, and it has done Florida more harm than good. A Cuba bill under consideration promises more of the same. Other bills are symbolic at best." More curbs on Cuba travel not needed".
The Tampa Trib editors: "Rubio is seeking to destroy Martinez's conservation masterpiece. His budget-cutting minions plan to kill funding for Florida Forever. And to further emphasize their contempt for the environment, they also want to strip Everglades restoration funding from the budget" "House Leadership Would Abandon Effort To Save Natural Florida".
The Miami Herald editors: "Florida long has strived to be a business-friendly state. This bill is not good for business or state residents. The privilege of gun owners should not trump the right of workers to be safe or of businesses to decide what is permissible on private property." "Guns unsafe at work".
The Tampa Trib editorial board: "A Republican-sponsored bill passed by the Florida House, however, represents government intrusion at its worse. The bill would require a woman seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound - no matter how early her pregnancy. Ultrasounds - or sonograms - are already required during second- and third-trimester abortions." "
The Tampa Trib editorial board: "'Informed Decision' Bill Is Intrusive".
Earnarks, Young style
"Two sons of U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young work for Pinellas County companies that have received millions of dollars in federal money thanks to the congressman." "Rep. Young's earmarks help his children's employers".
"A second attempt to crack down on double-dipping state employees failed Thursday, thanks in part to two senators who also collect pensions as former sheriffs." Fla. Senate rejects plan to stop double-dipping".