Budget bills readied as session nears end


TALLAHASSEE – After months of sparring and a nearly three-week special session, lawmakers will be able to vote Friday – after the Florida Courier’s Wednesday press time – on a $78.7 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The budget was sent to lawmakers and other state officials at 5:37 p.m. Tuesday, starting a 72-hour review period before the House and Senate can vote on it.

Lawmakers Wednesday filed agreed-upon amendments to a series of budget-related bills. House and Senate leaders agreed on the amendments during budget negotiations.  The bills deal with issues such as transportation, Medicaid and environmental programs.

As an example, an amendment to a transportation bill directs the spending of $25 million for development of a trail network that could be used by bicyclists and pedestrians – a priority of Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.

Lawmakers are expected to approve the budget before adjourning Friday and also will have to vote on the related bills.

A Friday vote would come one day before the scheduled end of a special session that started June 1.

The budget then will go to Gov. Rick Scott, who can use his line-item veto power to delete spending proposals.

The state fiscal year starts July 1.

Scott signs tax cut
On Tuesday, Scott signed into law tax cuts that will reduce costs on cell-phone bills, cable TV bills, gun club memberships, college textbooks and luxury boat repairs.

For many Floridians, the biggest checkbook item may be a reduction in the communications-services tax on cell-phone and cable-TV bills. The savings are projected at $20 a year for people paying $100 a month for the services.

The measure also will eliminate sales taxes on college textbooks for a year and establish a 10-day sales-tax holiday starting Aug. 7 on clothing under $100, school supplies that cost $15 or less and the first $750 of personal computers purchased for non-commercial use.


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