Get ready for budget fun this week
The state budget takes center stage in the House and Senate on Wednesday. And based on the amendments already filed, it could be a lively debate.
In the House, Democratic leader Franklin Sands gets the partisanship started with an amendment to allow state universities to conduct embryonic stem cell research, which is currently prohibited. Another from top Democrat Ron Saunders of Key West would rename the state budget the "Job Killer Act of 2010." Saunders is upset the budget cuts $466 million for road building, which the Florida Transportation Commission is also fighting. And Rep. Marcelo Llorente wants to cut the language proposed by House Budget Chairman David Rivera that would require most state agency chiefs to live within 50 miles of Leon County.
In the Senate, it's the same story. Sen. Dan Gelber wants to earmark $500,000 for Broward College's Institute of Public Safety. Sen. Dave Aronberg and Sen. Al Lawson would eliminate the closing of two state prisons to open the privately run Blackwater facility and prevent the privatization of state work release centers for inmates, restoring a good chunk of money to the Department of Corrections.
As the education debate heats up, Gelber wants to make any changes to teacher evaluations and salaries contingent on Florida winning federal Race to the Top funding. The state lost out in the first round this week, but could still win money in the second round this fall.
Sen. Victor Crist wants to funnel $250,000 to the Brandon Community Hurricane Shelter in his home county, while Sen. Mike Fasano wants to direct $750,000 to a similar facility in a district named in his honor. Crist also wants to earmark $1,000,000 for the Turkey Creek Road improvements. Expect these items -- especially the last one -- to get labeled budget turkeys.