Medicine

And legislative leaders work out budget deal

And legislative leaders work out budget deal”

Several other senators expressed anger that the deal seemed to be giving Scott and Corcoran their priorities on the backs of the Senate - senators were largely responsible for getting local projects into the budget this year, and those projects will now be cut to generate funding for K-12 education, Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.

Rick Scott has reached a deal with legislative leaders to hold a three-day special session in Tallahassee next week to direct more money to education, tourism promotion and economic incentives.

Corcoran, meanwhile, has been defending a wide-ranging education bill that boosts funding for charter schools and teacher bonuses.

Each leader will get something from the deal, which will be completed in a special session that begins Wednesday. That includes an extra $200 million in K-12 funding, $76 million for the state tourism marketing agency Visit Florida and $85 million for the state economic development agency Enterprise Florida.

Florida will fix the state's vote-by-mail ballot law that a federal judge called "illogical and freaky". Voters approved a medical-marijuana constitutional amendment in November. But he agreed to $85 million in incentive funding, so long as it's used for a new program that benefit all businesses through job training and infrastructure development. Both chambers of the state legislature approved that big budget cut last month.

One certainty is that a new budget must be in place by the July 1st start of the fiscal year or Florida will face some type of a government shutdown, with agencies, ranging from schools to prisons, being forced to operate on an emergency basis.

And although the new budget bill passed overwhelmingly, an override could be blocked by Senate Democrats, who control 15 of 39 now occupied seats and could use their leverage to increase spending on public schools.

Scott has fifteen days to sign off, decide on line-item vetoes or reject the measure outright.

Corcoran also sought to slash funding for Enterprise Florida's operating budget from $23.5 million to $16 million and eliminate 21 corporate incentive programs.

In announcing the deal, Scott and Corcoran appear to have finally declared a truce after engaging in an intense war of words over the last few months, primarily over the issue of economic incentives.

As lawmakers prepare for next week's special session, one issue that remains up in the air is medical marijuana. Scott argues the agency has been critical for job creation in the state.

"It's a shame the House wouldn't negotiate during the regular session", Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, tweeted. Without legislative action, more of the responsibility for the regulatory framework would fall on the state Department of Health. "I don't have information that that's changed at this point", he said, adding that House and Senate bills were "very, very close" by the end of the regular session.



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