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Around the state

House leaders renounce new taxes as budget cure

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 7, 2003

TALLAHASSEE -- Republican leaders in the House said Monday they're unwilling to consider raising taxes as a way of dealing with a budget shortfall.

House Speaker Johnnie Byrd told a meeting of the House Policy Committee that Republicans, with a commanding 81-39 majority in the House, need to remain true to the principles that got them elected no matter what the economy does. The number-one priority on his list: less taxation.

Florida voters "sent you here to live within your means," said Byrd, R-Plant City.

"We're going to build a budget where we live within our means with no new taxes," said Appropriations Committee Chairman Bruce Kyle, R-Fort Myers.

With incoming tax dollars down because of the sagging economy, Senate President Jim King isn't sure that can be done.

King said he is awaiting the budget to be offered later this month by Gov. Jeb Bush to see whether the governor can find a way to pay for state services with no new taxes.

"If he can do that and do it without terribly penalizing sick people, old people, people in schools -- hey, sign me up," said King, R-Jacksonville, who met with Senate committee chairs Monday.

Peter H. Williams chosen new statewide prosecutor

Attorney General-elect Charlie Crist on Monday named Peter H. Williams as the new statewide prosecutor.

Williams, 50, a former assistant attorney general in the antitrust division, will replace Melanie Ann Hines, who has served in the job for 12 years. The statewide prosecutor serves a four-year term advising members of the statewide grand jury on multicounty crimes.

A University of Florida law graduate, Williams also has a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a master's in business administration from Stanford University.

"Peter is committed to protecting the people of Florida from those who engage in organized criminal activity," Crist said.

Williams is the current director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.

Crist also named Monesia Taylor Brown as director of legislative affairs. She has worked as a special counsel for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and previously served as deputy counsel at the Department of Management Services.

Child dies after father gets confused during house fire

JACKSONVILLE -- A 3-year-old boy died Monday after his father became disoriented in heavy smoke and could rescue only one of his four children from their burning home. Firefighters rescued two others.

Darrell Leron McBride Sr., 30, fell asleep as he was frying potatoes and the grease caught fire, said homicide Sgt. Scott McLeod.

McBride grabbed three of the children and tried to escape, then became disoriented and dropped two of them inside the house before diving with one through a window, the Florida Times-Union reported.

The father then smashed windows to try to re-enter the house and rescue the remaining children, but was unable to get through the smoke and flames.

Firefighters retrieved the three trapped children, but Giovanni Gelo, 3, died at the scene.

Dottie McBride, 5, and Darrell McBride Jr., 4, were treated and released from Baptist Medical Center. Lilian McBride, 2 months, was in fair condition. Her father was treated for deep cuts on his hands.

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