Monday, May 16, 2011

Budget Finally Approved Early Saturday Morning

The $69.7 billion budget (SB 2000) passed the Florida Senate late Friday. House approval, though, didn't come until 1:55 a.m. Saturday after the two Republican-controlled chambers voted to extend the legislative session past its scheduled midnight conclusion into overtime. Final passage sent the budget to Gov. Rick Scott, who left the Capitol for the night as the session was extended.

The budget will eliminate nearly 4,500 state positions, about 2,000 of which are vacant, while 1,700 jobs are in prisons slated to be privatized. School districts also are anticipating layoffs and furloughs due to state spending cuts.

Yet lawmakers also found enough money to cut taxes by $308 million - mostly at the expense of water management districts - and pay for dozens of their pet projects. Those include college and university buildings, a rowing facility in Sarasota and a $400,000 study of House Speaker Dean Cannon's proposal to expand the Florida Supreme Court. The budget also maintains $2.28 billion in reserve funds.

The votes were 31-8 in the Senate and 79-39 in the House with most Democrats opposed.

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