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Legislature closes session with final burst of chaos -- and $70 billion budget

TALLAHASSEE — The Legislature approved a budget late Friday in a final burst of chaos as the Supreme Court rejected a map of Senate districts and maverick senators killed a controversial education bill.

In a 15-hour day, lawmakers sent Gov. Rick Scott a $70 billion budget that creates a 12th state university in Lakeland, closes six prisons and eliminates another 4,400 jobs, nearly 4 percent of the state's work force.

The Republican-controlled Legislature also reduced Medicaid payments to hospitals, repealed an unpopular septic tank inspection program, approved random drug testing of state workers and measures aimed at reducing the rampant fraud in the state's personal injury protection (PIP) car insurance program.

The House passed the budget 80-37; the Senate voted 32-8.

"Auto insurance fraud reform, my job creation agenda and $1 billion for K-12 education — this session has been a victory for all Floridians," Scott said.

Counties will be forced to repay about $300 million in disputed Medicaid bills or risk losing revenue sharing money over a five-year period. The provision was in a bill (HB 5301) that was a priority to Democrats to allow state workers to enroll their children in the KidCare health insurance program.

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