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Rubio helps political ally in budget

Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio quietly slipped tough-to-spot language in a state budget plan last week that helps a friend and political money-man bid on a major fuel contract in a $265 million turnpike overhaul proposal.

This is the second year in a row that South Florida fuel distributor Max Alvarez has relied on the man he has said is ''like a son'' to push the budget language to ensure he can more easily bid for the job.

Rubio declined to discuss the issue, though he acknowledged through spokeswoman Jill Chamberlin that his office ''had a role'' in putting the language in the budget, adding that ``others are interested in it as well.''

Senate Republican leader Dan Webster said the budget language -- which surfaced last year ''in the dark of night'' -- remains a ''bad deal'' because it would prohibit the state from even getting bids to see if a combined contract is advantageous.

''That doesn't make sense,'' said Webster, a transportation department ally from Winter Garden. More here.