Senate, House pass budgets

Today is Day 32 of the 60-day session of the Florida Legislature.

Associated Press
Published April 7, 2006

It's easier to write a budget when there's so much money.

The Senate quickly and easily passed a $68.9-billion proposed state budget Thursday after a short and compliment-filled discussion that could barely be called a debate. The vote was unanimous.

The House followed suit later, unanimously passing its budget that is just under $71-billion. While the House spent much of the day debating amendments, there was almost no debate about the bill itself.

A hot economy can be credited with taking some of the acrimony out of the process. The Legislature had more than $6-billion more to spend than it had originally anticipated because incoming taxes have grown beyond expectations. "This is probably the least divisive budget we've had since I've been here," said Rep. Bob Henriquez, D-Tampa, who has been in the Legislature since 1999.

Other action

BOOT CAMPS: House lawmakers remembered Martin Lee Anderson, the 14-year-old who died after spending time at a juvenile boot camp, when they passed a bill to eliminate funding for the state programs. Security videotape taken at the Bay County boot camp on Jan. 5 shows Anderson struggling with guards. He died the next day in a Pensacola hospital. As federal and state investigations continue into Anderson's death, legislators voted to end funding for the military-style boot camps, which have employed violence to discipline and train campers. Instead, the money will support residential programs that focus on education and after care, said sponsor Rep. Gus Barreiro, R-Miami.

PAROLE COMMISSION: Florida would no longer have a parole commission to help prisoners with clemency if the Senate follows the House's lead and Gov. Jeb Bush approves. The House's budget proposal eliminates funding for the parole commission, saying it is outdated and ineffective.