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2017-18 budget - page 2

Hospitality marketing money still in play, lawmakers say

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Money to help smaller communities market themselves during the off-season could still be in play as legislative leaders continue to negotiate the 2017-18 budget. The Senate has proposed language to move a state-funded marketing program run by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation from Visit Florida. The House did not include the language in its proposal. The state’s tourism marketing has annually contracted with the FRLA to “develop a coordinated marketing, media, and…

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Report: State workers to get pay raises, but changes to health benefits could be coming

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State workers could get a raise under a proposed budget deal being hashed out by state lawmakers, but it could come at a cost. The $82.9 billion budget deal is expected to provide an across-the-board raise for state workers — their first in about nine years, according to Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, for whom the raise was a priority. But according to POLITICO Florida, the Senate has agreed to changes to the state’s health insurance plan and pension plan in…

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Budget deal struck, House and Senate leaders appoint conferees

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There is a deal. House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron announced a settlement Thursday on the major points of difference between their chambers on an $83 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and appointed conference committee members to work out the details. The conferees were to begin work at 1:30. They have until noon Sunday — any differences remaining at that point would go to Corcoran and Negron to settle. “I am confident…

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Jack Latvala, Larry Ahern trade budget jabs on Twitter

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With 10 days until the scheduled end of the 2017 Legislative Session and no allocations on the desk, it’s fair to say things are getting a little heated in Tallahassee. Case in point: An exchange between Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala and House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Larry Ahern on Twitter over the House’s proposed standard operating, or continuation, budget. As news spread Sunday the House had offered a so-called continuation budget, Latvala, a Clearwater Republican took to Twitter…

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House votes down budget amendment calling for report on cost-effectiveness of Florida’s death penalty

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The Florida House rebuffed an attempt to include proviso language in the budget for a report on the “imposition and execution of capital punishment” in Florida. The amendment, put forward by Rep. Sharon Pritchett, called for the state to use money to fund a report from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) looking at the death penalty. The report, among other things, would have had to identify the actual fiscal cost associated with maintaining a capital…

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Florida voters would like to see increase in Medicaid funding, new poll shows

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A new survey from the Florida Hospital Association shows strong support among Florida voters to keep — or in many increase — state funding for Medicaid programs. The survey, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies from March 1 through March 5, found Floridians have the most favorable opinion of Medicaid that the association has recorded in six years. The poll of 600 registered voters found 56 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Medicaid, up from 47 percent in a November 2011…

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Joe Negron would ‘prefer’ to use gambling money in budget

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Senate President Joe Negron wants to use gambling money sitting in the state’s treasury for spending next year, but said it won’t spell disaster if lawmakers can’t. The Stuart Republican, speaking to reporters after Thursday’s floor session, said he was “optimistic” that the Legislature will finally pass an omnibus gambling overhaul that includes a renewed blackjack agreement with the state’s Seminole Tribe. Despite ongoing litigation over its right to offer blackjack, the Tribe continues to pay gambling revenue share to the state, nearly $40 million for…

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