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2016-17 state budget

Extension resolution pledges that House and Senate will adjourn together

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The Senate has adopted a concurrent resolution giving the Legislature itself until 11:59 p.m. Monday to pass the state budget. SCR 1850, adopted on a voice vote after 9 p.m., limits the extension to work on SB 2500, the proposed General Appropriations Act, and related legislation including a package of tax breaks. House and Senate conferees were unable to nail down a budget agreement quickly enough to adjourn on time. “Be it further resolved that all other measures in both houses are indefinitely…

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Homestead exemption expansion wins supermajority vote in Senate

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The Senate approved a proposed ballot measure Monday to raise the value of Florida’s homestead exemption, improving chances that separate legislation to expand gambling would survive the Legislative Session. The vote was 28-10, within the required three-fifths majority. House leaders, who have been reluctant to open Florida to additional gambling options, have made approval of legislation to do that contingent on passage of the homestead exemption increase. Several senators referred to those stakes, but sponsor Tom Lee maintained that the…

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From Argentina, Rick Scott keeps up the chatter for economic incentives

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Gov. Rick Scott, while on a trade mission to Argentina, urged the Florida Legislature to include his economic incentives  programs when finalizing the next state budget. “Lawmakers cannot be shortsighted at the expense of Florida families by cutting funds for tourism marketing and economic development,” Scott said in a written statement distributed by his office. “I would be absolutely shocked if politicians in the Florida Legislature put their self-interests before the interests of our families and small businesses,” he wrote. “Let’s remember, fully…

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Rick Scott endorses water storage south of Lake Okeechobee, but not buying land

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Gov. Rick Scott endorsed a key element of Senate President Joe Negron’s Lake Okeechobee plan Monday — storing and treating water south of the lake — and called upon the House and Senate to invest $200 million in repairs to the Herbert Hoover dike. Scott said during a news conference that the state can afford the repairs because of the $1.5 billion the Trump administration has provided to reimburse hospitals for charity care. “With this additional funding, we now have…

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Safety net hospitals decry Medicaid spending cuts planned for Florida

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trauma centers

Representatives of hospitals that invest heavily in physician training and care for the indigent held a news conference Monday to protest plans in the Legislature to slash Medicaid re-imbursement rates. The cuts would undermine the state’s investments in training doctors, alliance members argued outside the Senate Office Building in Tallahassee. Under the Graduate Medical Education Startup Bonus Program launched by Gov. Rick Scott two years ago, teaching hospitals draw $100,000 bonuses for every residency they add in key specialties. New…

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Lawyers for the state tell Senate committee they need pay raises, too

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State attorneys and public defenders face off in court, but they agreed on one thing during a meeting Wednesday of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice: Their staff attorneys need pay raises. Trouble is, committee chairman Aaron Bean isn’t convinced there’ll be enough money to pay for that, as much as he sympathizes. “The secret is that there’s just not going to be enough money to cover everybody’s requests,” Bean said following the hearing. “That’s why we…

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Rick Scott’s budget would raid affordable housing trust funds

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Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget would shift nearly 77 percent of the $293.4 million earmarked for low-income housing next year to other state priorities. That works out to $224 million from state and local housing trust funds that won’t go for their intended purpose. State law reserves a portion of the take from documentary stamp tax on real estate transactions for low-income housing. The trust fund total is an estimate reached by state economists in December, and could vary depending on…

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