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© St. Petersburg Times, published March 10, 2000
A $5-billion bill to speed up road improvement projects was passed by the Senate.
The bill calls for the state to spend the money over the next 10 years to accelerate a number of highway projects, with emphasis on hurricane evacuation, commuting and commercial routes.
The measure, the first passed by the full Senate this session, still has to be approved by the House and signed by the governor. A similar package is ready to move forward in the House.
The $5-billion plan goes farther than a $4-billion one put forward by Bush earlier this year.
The money is available because of the strong economy in recent years.
Among the projects that would get an earlier start are reconstruction of the Interstate 75-275 interchange in Tampa and interchange improvements on U.S. 19 in Pinellas County. --AP
Lower taxes at back-to-school time and for people able to afford investments are a certainty for next year, but lawmakers and the governor differ on how much the state can afford to give back to Floridians.
The Senate would cut taxes far less than Gov. Jeb Bush, who has proposed $578-million in cuts for the coming fiscal year.
The Senate goal is for about $266-million in tax cuts, Budget Committee Chairman Locke Burt, R-Ormond Beach, told senators Thursday. The House hasn't finalized its plan, but Speaker John Thrasher, R-Orange Park, has said its package will be as high or higher than the governor's.
That's the way things started off last year, too, when the House and governor proposed $1.2-billion in tax cuts and the Senate proposed $800-million. They met in the middle for a $1-billion cut.
Most of the proposed cuts would come by scaling back for the second year in a row the intangibles tax Floridians pay on stock and bond investments.
The other large tax cut area is a late summer break from the sales tax on certain items of clothing. Both the Senate and the governor are proposing a nine day break from the tax, about the time parents are buying back-to-school items. -AP
The House paused to remember Elaine Gordon, a former member who died last month in Miami. With a life-size cardboard cutout of her standing near the front of the chamber, current and former members joined her family and friends in remembering Gordon, who served two decades before retiring in 1992.
Former Sen. Roberta Fox sparked laughter when she described an airplane trip Gordon, a liberal Democrat, made from Miami to Tallahassee with Republican Jeb Bush before he was governor. They boarded an early morning flight and promptly fell asleep in adjacent seats.
As they landed in Tallahassee, Bush turned to Gordon and said, "Very nice sleeping with you, Mrs. Gordon."
"It is an event I will not put on my resume," Fox said Gordon replied. -- LUCY MORGAN
Rep. Bob Henriquez plans to introduce a resolution condemning Bob Jones University, the South Carolina school that has become entwined in 2000 presidential politics.
Henriquez, a Tampa Democrat, announced the resolution at a news conference, saying the measure is needed "to stand against the anti-minority, anti-Catholic, anti-diversity and anti-Florida views of Bob Jones University."
A week ago, Gov. Jeb Bush had to defend himself after defending his brother -- Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush -- who came under political fire for visiting Bob Jones University. The Texas governor has apologized for failing to criticize the anti-Catholic views of the university during his visit.
The university also had a policy banning interracial dating, although its president said recently that now would be allowed.
Henriquez insisted there is no partisan politics behind his resolution, even though he is on Vice President Al Gore's presidential steering committee. --AP