Florida Five: Breakthrough made in weekend budget negotiations, House passes tax cut plan

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

fl legislatureIn breakthrough, lawmakers agree on health budget and “significant” increase for education – After months of federal negotiations and proposals floated by Gov. Rick Scott, the House and the Senate, lawmakers on Saturday reached tentative agreements on how much money should flow to hospitals and other medical providers that care for large numbers of low-income patients. Following advice from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lawmakers set aside $1 billion in and state and federal funding for the Low Income Pool, or LIP, program in the budget year that begins July 1. Read more

Jack Latvala, budget writers “horse trading in public” on member projects funding—Tallahassee’s withering June weather seems to have made sunshine fashionable again in the Florida statehouse. As House and Senate lawmakers confer over the weekend to reconcile their disparate budget proposals, transparency is the tool of choice for some key budget writers. Going against the usual appropriations grain wherein budget priorities are wheeled and dealt among lawmakers in private, conference subcommittee co-chair Sen. Jack Latvala, for one, is naming names and forcing public decisions in this year’s budget. Read more

On Amendment 1 bonding, Florida House is standing its ground – The House’s latest budget offer would scrap using bonding to fund land acquisition. But don’t expect it to remain that way. House leadership has favored the plan to direct a significant portion of the money from the conservation-minded Amendment 1 — passed overwhelmingly by voters in November — to bonding. The Senate, meanwhile has strongly opposed any bonding with Amendment 1 dollars. Read more

House passes $400 million tax cut plan – Florida House members are determined to have their tax cuts — even if they’ll be far less than anticipated. After just a few minutes of debate on the floor Friday, the House voted 97-10 in favor of tax cuts that will hit $436 million once they’re all implemented. The original proposal — supported by Gov. Rick Scott and carried through the legislature by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach — would have included $690 million in cuts, mostly to the Communications Services Tax on cable and cell phone bills. Read more

Peter Rummell eyes $400-million vision for a healthy town along St. Johns River – Peter Rummell looks at the overgrown vacant lot and his imagination slips into fifth gear. Rummell, 69, intends to take the weed-filled eyesore and turn it into something that will draw attention to Jacksonville and provide a healthy dose of adrenaline to a downtown that closes up after dark except for a few weeks a year. Read more

BEACH DANGER: Boy bitten by shark at Florida beach

ICYMI: ‘Called Chris Matthews, asked him if his refrigerator was running . . .’ Hilarious ‘Rubio crime spree’ hashtag!

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