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State budget talks move forward, but biggest sticking points remain

State lawmakers made significant headway on the budget Saturday, reaching consensus on economic incentives and spending on transportation, prisons and law enforcement.

But they had yet to find a compromise in the two most controversial parts of the spending plan: education and health and human services.

“We just opted not to go through that first,” House Budget Chairwoman Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, said. “We’ll get to it, hopefully, tomorrow.”

The chambers must align their budgets by Tuesday to bring the Legislative session to a timely close. The Senate had proposed a $71 billion budget. The House version was $69 billion.

On Saturday, lawmakers agreed on an $86 million package of economic incentives aimed at bringing companies to Florida.

After initially disagreeing on how much power Gov. Rick Scott should have over the pot of incentive money, the Senate and House came together on an agreement to give the governor $61 million to use as he sees fit. An additional $25 million in incentives — grants, tax cuts and the like — would have to be approved by legislators.

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But they can't find a little money to keep a successful dimens prison and a couple of good transition centers open to help lower longer-term DOC costs. What ever happened to that part of Gov. Scott's campaign agenda?

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