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House and Senate cement their differences on Visit Florida funding

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House budget writers stuck to the plan Tuesday in rolling out details of their proposed $12.3 billion for transportation and tourism. It would eliminate economic incentives programs including Enterprise Florida, and sharply reduce spending on Visit Florida.

“We’re basically following the tenets of (HB) 7005, the policy bill that was passed a couple of weeks ago,” said Clay Ingram, chairman of the Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee.

The committee would give $25 million to Visit Florida, rather less than the $76 million recommended by its Senate counterpart earlier in the day. It would provide $10 million for Space Florida.

But a raft of additional business incentives programs would fall by the wayside under the House budget.

Ingram conceded the differences are wide.

“If we were to go to conference right this second, I have no idea how it would turn out,” he said.

“I just know that the conversations that go on at the 4th Floor level” — between House and Senate leaders, that is — “will probably get us in a position to negotiate.”

Surviving incentives would benefit African-American- and Hispanic-owned businesses, the Florida Sports Foundation, and the Defense Support Task Force, which tries to recruit and retain military operations.

Five budget subcommittees were releasing outlines of their spending plans all day. The formal Appropriations Act is due by week’s end. More here.

The budget would cut staff positions at the Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees the incentives, among other duties. But they represent positions that have gone vacant for more than 180 days, Ingram said.

There would be $155 million for affordable housing, including $4 million for the homeless.

There would be $10.8 billion for the Department of Transportation, including $9.9 billion for its work program.

The House budget subcommittees were instructed to come up with “A” scenario and “B” scenario plans — the first involving cuts of about $1 billion; the latter, about $2 billon. Budget chairman Carlos Trujillo has also discussed a target of $1.4 billion in cuts.

The targets reflect flattening tax proceeds.

One agency that emerged unscathed in Ingram’s proposal was the Department of Military Affairs. It will hold steady at $72.2 million during the next budget year.

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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