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Legislature sends $82.3 billion budget to Rick Scott

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The budget is official in Gov. Rick Scott’s hands.

The Legislature sent Scott the budget — and four other related bills — on Thursday. The Naples Republican now has until April 1 to act.

The Legislature overwhelmingly approved the $82.3 billion spending plan on Friday. The proposed budget includes $20.2 billion for K-12 public school education; $1 billion for the Department of Children and Families for mental health and substance abuse treatment; and $10.7 million for Florida’s crime laboratories to eliminate the state’s rape testing kit backlog.

While the governor has two weeks to act on the budget, there will be few surprises when he ultimately signs it. On Tuesday, Scott announced he planned to veto “$256.1 million in projects that do not provide a significant return on taxpayer investment.”

The pre-emptive list included $3 million for the Hillsborough Community College South Shore campus and $11 million for construction of the Pasco-Hernando College Performing Arts Education Center. It appeared the governor intended to keep $7 million in the budget for police radios and $20 million for the University of Central Florida’s downtown Orlando campus.

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