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Budget done.

by Dara Kam | May 4th, 2009

Lawmakers closed out the $65 billion budget this morning that includes nearly $2 billion in taxes and fees, including a $380 million property tax increase if school boards approve it.

Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander and House counterparts David Rivera and Marcelo Llorente resolved most of their disagreements over the weekend and sealed the deal this morning without sending any unresolved disputes to Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul.

One of the losers in the deal: Florida Forever, the state’s land-buying program received no new money. But the budget chiefs did agree to issue $250 million in bonding authority from this year. They could not sell the bonds because of a decline in real estate transaction taxes used to pay them back.

The legislature closed a real estate tax loophole during the session that they hope will generate enough money to keep Florida Forever running next year.

A last-minute change this weekend shifted $25 million for Florida Forever to the Everglades clean-up program, bringing the total for that to $50 million.

Also included in the budget are more than $800 million in fees, including a hike in driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations and court filings. And smokers will pay an extra buck-a-pack for cigarettes to raise about another $800 million to be spent on the state’s Medicaid program.

State workers earning more than $45,000 a year will see a 2 percent salary cut but university workers are exempt. That amounts to a $30 million cut from general revenue, far less than the $100 million in state employee pay cuts the House had original proposed.

School boards, meanwhile, got the OK to hike property taxes an additional 25 cents per $1,000 of value with a majority vote. Voters would have to sign off on the tax increase at the general election in 2010. The tax increase would raise $380 million for school districts statewide if implemented by all 67 counties, including nearly $17 million for Palm Beach County.

Bright Futures will no longer cover tuition hikes, including the 8 percent tuition increase included in the budget. Lawmakers also gave universities the ability to raise tuition up to 15 percent.

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6 Responses to “Budget done.”

  1. carol Says:

    Raising property taxes will only force those who are already struggling to move out of the state. Taxes should be raised for things like driving offenses, smoking, etc. Not property taxes which are already too high. Bad move.

  2. sane citizen Says:

    I wish they would simply make more cuts, instead of raising taxes. Adopt a budget similar to what they had before the housing boom.

  3. Caitlyn Says:

    Why is the world would anyone believe smokers should have to pay for people who dont have health care. We may choose to smoke but the government allows the product to be on the market. If alcohol was being taxed to pay for medicaid im sure every non smoker would change their tune. this is ridiculous.

  4. ellen Says:

    This budget will raises my taxes and fees, will allow the school board to raise property taxes, means that Bright Futures will no longer cover tuition increases that could be up to 15 per centjust as my child begin college AND calls for my salary to be cut by two percent. Whats not to like. At least I dont smoke. Cut my pay or raise my fees and taxes, but both at the same time is too alot to bear.

  5. S. Florida Says:

    I can’t believe they continue to raise taxes, they think that we are thier personal bank roll. Why is it in a time when we have to cut back due to layoffs and pay cuts, these greedy filthy politicians think they can continue to squeeze us. I left Florida, and I will never go back. The problem is I still have a house there that I can’t sell because all the other ones are in forclosure. I considering just dumping it at a loss so I don’t have to pay the ridiculous taxes and insurance on it anymore. Fla lawmakers, you just don’t get it. Economic downturn, means that you all should have to go without, just like the rest of us.

  6. Mr. Bojangles Says:

    Caitlyn, alcohol is being taxed too. Just that smoking is more a health issue in costs.

    I think the lotto should be more tapped. With Powerball now though, it may be too late.

    I think the bright futures scholarship should be cut. Too many get into college already…degrees are becoming worthless.

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