Senate passes budget unanimously
The Florida Senate voted unanimously to approve its budget.
A few issues:
Bottom line: about $69.5 billion, about $2 billion more than the House.
Stimulus money: About $3 billion of Congressional Democratic largess is plowed into the Republican-crafted budget. The spending plan tentatively includes $880M more in extra Medicaid stimulus money, which Congress has yet to approve. This isn't in the House budget.
Gaming: $435 million for expanding gaming and a deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. This isn't in the House budget.
Medicaid: 16 lines of last-minute proviso language, never before debated or presented in the Legislature, could restructure Medicaid in a "transformative" fashion, according to sponsor Joe Negron.
Prisons: The private Blackwater prison will get more inmates, but two public prisons won't close (as had been previously proposed). Nor will about 2,000 prison guards lose their jobs.
Environment: Florida Forever gets a small $15 million, which is about $15 million more for land purchases than had been previously thought.
Marc Caputo, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau