Florida Legislature approves $77 billion budget

Congress

“The Legislature turned its back on those who work hard but cannot afford proper healthcare,” said the Rev. Brant Copeland, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee. “We’re not going to forget. We think the Legislature can do better.”

In a session aimed at shoring up Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election prospects, Republicans stayed on course.

The Republicans’signature failure was their refusal for the second consecutive year to consider an expansion of Medicaid in a state that ranks second to Texas in the number of people with no health insurance.

The GOP majority ignored ideas,such as raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and allowing people to register to vote online.

The budget headed to Scott’s desk has hundreds of millions of dollars in projects in lawmakers’ districts. Crist challenged Scott to veto it and call lawmakers back in a special session and demand that it be given to public schools.

Scott can’t veto a lot of line-item spending without making his fellow Republicans look like spendthrifts. That would create dissension in a year when Scott needs their help on the campaign trail.

The House reproved the immigrant tuition bill 84-32 on Friday after killing an amendment by Rep. Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando that would let undocumented immigrants receive Florida driver’s licenses, an idea Bush championed unsuccessfully a decade ago.

“There’s a lot of unfinished business,” said Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, the House Democratic leader.“We’re going to get out of here and pat ourselves on the back when there’s really a lot more to be done.”

Democrats said the Republicans’signature failure was their refusal for the second consecutive year to consider an expansion of Medicaid in a state that ranks second to Texas in the number of people with no health insurance.

As the last day of lawmaking got underway, a group of clergy, single moms and others issued a call for action, but the issue was dead before the session began.

“The Legislature turned its back on those who work hard but cannot afford proper healthcare,” said the Rev. Brant Copeland, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee. “We’re not going to forget. We think the Legislature can do better.”

Lawmakers ended their annual session with a record state budget that increases money for a host of items, including child welfare and schools.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/02/4095046/legislature-set-to-ok-77-billion.html

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