Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Senate panel approves $70 billion budget that includes federal stimulus

TALLAHASSEE — The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved a nearly $70 billion budget Thursday after fortifying it with $880 million more in hoped-for federal stimulus money from Washington.

The money would enable senators to reduce or avoid unpopular cuts to health care and education programs, and would restore $15 million of the $21 million cut in state aid to libraries.

The extra federal money could free up about $600 million in state tax money to bolster state programs.

The Senate would hike college and university tuition by 8 percent and privatize 1,350 more prison beds in the western Panhandle while shutting a like number of state-run prison beds. That would save about $20 million but end the jobs of 639 state workers, many of whom belong to the politically influential Police Benevolent Association.

Senators said many of those workers could be rehired from the money saved through privatization with the GEO Group. The Blackwater River Correctional Institution was completed last year but has not opened.

Another political fight centered on a Senate plan to cut budgets of elected court clerks by 5 percent, an idea clerks said would force hundreds of layoffs and lead to poorer service to consumers who in some counties wait in long lines to pay traffic tickets.

"I hear you," said the architect of the clerks' budget cut, Senate budget chairman J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales. He noted the vehement resistance from the clerks who said a uniform "unit cost" budgeting system for all 67 counties was unrealistic given the wide disparities around the state in areas such as the number of foreclosures.

Alexander, who chairs the 25-member Ways and Means panel, said a proposed cut in the clerks' budget was forced by the need to close a projected $3.2 billion budget deficit. "Unlike Congress, we don't get to borrow from the Chinese," Alexander said.

The Senate budget includes a $100,000 study to determine whether counties such as Miami-Dade deserve a cost-of-living boost in public school spending, a controversial budget increase known as a district cost differential.

The study also appears in the House budget under the sponsorship of Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican running for Congress.

Times/Herald staff writer Marc Caputo contributed to this report.

Senate panel approves $70 billion budget that includes federal stimulus 03/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 25, 2010 7:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Once trapped and wounded, manatee and calf return to the wild

    Wildlife

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The small crowd readied cameras and craned their necks, peering over heads and through bodies to try and catch a glimpse. Brittany Pharel, 10, wanted to see the hulking manatees, a mother and her calf, laid out on blue tarps Thursday along the edge of the Pithlachascotee River.

    Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo's associate veterinarian Lauren Smith, 33, examines the heart rate of a manatee calf named Cottee just before it was released into the waters of the Pithlachascotee River on Thursday. 
Cottee's mother Pascow was released at the same time in New Port Richey. 
The pair became stranded in May and the mother was found wounded. They needed to be rehabilitated before they could be released into open waters. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  2. Gov. candidate Chris King: Climate change is biggest threat to Florida's economy

    Blogs

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King today made his case for how economic growth and fighting climate change go hand in hand. His rivals for the Democratic nomination, Gwen Graham, …

    Winter Park businessman Chris King and his family
  3. Editorial: Buckhorn's proposed tax increase is too high for Tampa

    Editorials

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's proposed city budget for 2018 confronts some hard realities of the times. With debt payments looming and another fire station opening in fast-growing north Tampa, the City Council needs to consider raising property taxes, especially with the prospect of another homestead exemption around the …

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s proposed city budget for 2018 confronts some hard realities of the times. But it seems overly ambitious, and the City Council should be cautious about raising taxes too much in a single swoop.
  4. The next step in a sex abuse survivor's recovery: Erasing her tattoo

    Health

    TAMPA — Even after 20 years, Sufiyah can't escape the memories of being sexually exploited by gang members as a teenager.

    The tattoo makes it impossible.

    Sufiyah, an aAbuse survivor, prepares to have a tattoo removed  at Tampa Tattoo Vanish  on Thursday. During her teen years, she was sexually exploited by a gang. The tattoo is a mark of her exploiters. 

Tampa Tattoo Vanish is a new tattoo removal business run by Brian Morrison, where survivors of human trafficking get free tattoo removal.  [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  5. Cridlin: Linkin Park's Chester Bennington had a wail that stood apart

    Music & Concerts

    For all the old-timers' talk about how they don't make singers like they used to, about how rock vocalists of the 21st century can't hold a candle to the frontmen of yesteryear, here's a fact no hater could deny:

    Chester Bennington could flat-out wail.

    Chester Bennington of Linkin Park  performs at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for the 2014 Carnivores Tour. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]