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Sen. Peaden on Crist, McCollum, Atwater, Sink's "fodder"

Sen. Durell Peaden has the ugliest job in the Legislature: Presiding over the healthcare budget, which is often ugly. There's no exception this year. What's new this year: Peaden sounds like he has had enough of the election-year politics -- with Gov. Charlie Crist running for Senate, and Attorney General Bill McCollum running for governor along with state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Senate President Jeff Atwater running for Sink's seat.

Peaden said his budget need more money and he urged people to lobby Crist, Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul (who's not running for higher office).

"Folks need to go and talk to the presiding officers, the governor. Everybody’s running for higher office," Peaden said. "We need more money we need more revenues to address these serious issues. We’ve cut this budget to the bone. You can’t cut it anymore…. There’s nothing political here…"

Q: What about the candidates for higher office?

Peaden: "If they want to demonstrate what they want to do for the people of the state of Florida, they need to be down here with us on the ground, talking about real issues… whatever they’re compelled to say on the campaign trail, they might ought to say it here because this is where it really counts. The rest of it’s jus fodder."

Q: You sound upset

Peaden: "I’m not upset. I’m just concerned. This is very serious business. This is a life and death committee."

Peaden said he's sending a letter to Senate President Jeff Atwater asking that any of the new Medicaid stimulus money expected out of Congress (between $740m and $1b) be spent on.... Medicaid! Peaden made the same demand last year and was ignored. Legislators say they'll plug in the fed money in Medicaid, then pull out the state money to spread on other parts of the budget.