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    House relents in budget tug of war

    The Senate gets budget documents after a standoff with the House.

    By ALISA ULFERTS, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 11, 2003

    TALLAHASSEE -- An hourslong standoff between Senate President Jim King and House Speaker Johnnie Byrd ended late Thursday afternoon with the release of House budget documents King had demanded.

    King began the day with a public plea for the documents, saying they were needed so the House and Senate could begin negotiating budget differences. They are $1.4-billion apart and Byrd had refused to release the records until the House and Senate agreed on a bottom line.

    "If you were in a totalitarian government, that would probably be an appropriate response," said King, R-Jacksonville. "But we are a bicameral Legislature." King said withholding the documents made it impossible to meet finish by session's May 2 deadline.

    The House saw things differently.

    Less than two hours after King's statement, House budget chief Bruce Kyle, R-Fort Myers, vowed not to release the documents until the Senate said exactly where it would get $950-million in extra taxes its budget requires.

    "This is meaningless for us to release our columns until they tell us what . . . their secret plan for new revenue is," Kyle told House colleagues.

    Byrd, R-Plant City, said it was the Senate that was forcing the Legislature into overtime.

    But several hours later, after the St. Petersburg Times requested the documents, the House released the records to the Senate.

    "We reconsidered," said Byrd spokesman Todd Reid. He added that the Senate now should say where it wants to raise $950-million.

    King welcomed the papers.

    "Had they not done that, mechanically, we would not have been able to get out on time," King said.

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