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With a late-night huddle, House, Senate all but button-up budget talks

by John Kennedy | April 28th, 2014

The House and Senate all-but buttoned up a roughly $75 billion state budget late Sunday night, but still face another day of haggling over language that will implement the 2014-15 spending plan.

House Budget Chief Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, and Senate counterpart Joe Negron, R-Stuart, took part in public meetings twice Sunday — the last gaveled in shortly after 11 p.m. Agreements covered a range of education, health care and environmental issues that had been separating the two sides.

In one of the biggest budget areas — public school spending — lawmakers settled on a 2.6 percent per-pupil increase for Florida’s 2.7 million school kids. That should boost spending by about $175 per-student to around $6,935, still below the state’s pre-recession level of $7,126 reached in 2007-08.

The funding level is less than what the House originally proposed — at 3 percent, but about where the Senate originally recommended. Both sides beat Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed 2.5 percent increase.

With a budget surplus of $1.2 billion, spending decisions were made easier. But lawmakers are still racing toward a Tuesday deadline of having the final budget before lawmakers so a constitutionally required 72-hour waiting period can pass before a vote Friday, the session’s last scheduled day.

Other deals Sunday included the House going along with the Senate on the bulk of environmental spending, including $47 million for beach restoration,$73.9 million for hometown water projects and $22.8 million for springs preservation work, less than half the $55 million sought by Scott.

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One Response to “With a late-night huddle, House, Senate all but button-up budget talks”

  1. JoHNny HoTHead Says:

    Unh! Unh! Unh! That’s the sound of Floridians taking it in the backside whilst the R’s, who own the legislature, raid the public coffers on behalf of their corporate masters. When will Floridians awaken to the scandal?

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