$88.7 billion budget finalized, but Florida lawmakers expect to vote Sunday in extended session

$88.7 billion budget finalized

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TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers are poised to vote on an $88.7 billion state budget in overtime Sunday and end a 2018 session consumed by the shooting of 17 people at a Broward County high school.

The budget was finalized and released at 1:40 p.m. Thursday, starting the constitutionally required 72-hour waiting period before the House and Senate can vote on the spending plan, for the year beginning July 1.

The two-month session had been scheduled to end by midnight tonight.

But wrangling over hospital funding delayed a budget agreement, and legislative leaders now plan to extend the session until Sunday — although only a budget vote is anticipated over the weekend

The budget includes $400 million for school safety and mental health improvements prompted by the Valentine’s Day shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Lawmakers were able to add the money only after reducing by $200 million the state’s so-called “rainy day” fund reserve, leaving it at $1 billion. Another $404.3 million was pulled for a host of state trust funds to also spend on other programs and projects — with cash taken from the affordable housing account amounting to almost half the sum.

Following the destruction of Hurricane Irma and the arrival of thousands of Puerto Rican residents after Hurricane Maria, lawmakers had vowed to increase money available for apartments and lower-cost housing, but the Parkland response changed that and many other spending priorities.

For Florida’s 2.8 million school kids, lawmakers will increase per-pupil spending by $101, about half the amount Gov. Rick Scott proposed last fall. It’s just over a 1 percent increase, bringing per-pupil spending to $7,408.

Here are some local allocations currently in the state’s budget

$3 million: Adds 100 care for the elderly slots in Duval, Clay, Baker, Nassau and St. Johns

$250,000: Jacksonville School for Autism

Lawmakers, however, looked set to approve $168 million in tax breaks, an election-year package that earlier looked likely to be dramatically scaled back.

Instead, the proposal includes sales-tax holidays for back-to-school and hurricane supplies and several business and farm tax cuts.

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