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Latvala meets with Crisafulli and agrees to adjust $ for incentive funds

The day-long impasse over the legislature's economic development budget appeared to have ended late Monday, after Sen. Jack Latvala, the chief negotiator on the issue for the Senate, met privately for 45 minutes with House Speaker Steve Crisafulli.

Latvala, R-Clearwater, told the Herald/Times that the Senate would agree to use general revenue money to come up to $35 million for an incentive "tool kit" for Enterprise Florida to attract new businesses to the state. The number is still about about $4 million short of what the House proposed and what the governor wants but its about $10 million higher than the House had originally offered. 

Budget negotiations stalled early Monday when the House's top economic development negotiator, Rep. Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola, proposed to increase the business incentive pot from $25 million to $39 million, which prompted an angry response from Latvala, who thought they had already reached agreement on the amount.

Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said early in the day that the House freed up the money by reducing individual House projects by $7 million. Senate budget chief Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said the House was "doing the bidding" of the governor on the issue but chastised them for the late-session shift in priorities.

Latvala agreed to compromise after meeting with Crisafulli but said that more projects would have to be cut to find the money for the increase in incentive funds. 

"He told me he was very involved in the negotiations on this and he was told the Senate supported this,'' Latvala told the Herald/Times. "It was a misunderstanding and it's going to be rectified. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt."

The committee will meet tonight at 8 p.m. and work on reducing the number of local projects, Latvala said.

"We've got a lot of work to do,'' he said. "It's pretty healthy with projects."