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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 largesse is plowed into the Republican-crafted budget. The spending plan tentatively includes $880 m 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 deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. This isn't in the House budget.

Medicaid 16 lines of last-minute proviso lanugage, 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.


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