At the Florida capital, legislators are on track to approve a fourth-consecutive year of spending.

BRADENTON, Fla. – The Florida Senate and House released fiscal 2017 budgets Friday that would spend more than Gov. Rick Scott's recommendation.

All three proposals put the Sunshine state on track for a fourth-consecutive year of record spending.

The Senate's $81 billion budget tops Scott's request by $1.7 billion or 2%.

The plan released by the House totals $79.98 billion, $1.01 billion or 1.27% higher than the governor's.

Scott recommended a $79.3 billion spending plan, up 1.13% over the current year. It also included $1 billion in tax cuts that both chambers are still debating.

The Legislature is half way through this year's session and still must also work out differences on Scott's request for $250 million in economic development funding for Enterprise Florida to give companies that create new jobs. Scott heads up the public-private agency.

The Senate's budget includes the $250 million. The House does not.

"We recognize and appreciate Governor Scott's commitment to private sector job creation and his pro-active approach to economic development," said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development. "For this reason, we have matched his request for $250 million to advance these important efforts."

Scott's 2017 budget proposed one of his smallest debt financing plans since he took office in January 2011.

It included $230.7 million of bonds for transportation right-of-way acquisition and bridge construction, and $161.7 million for Florida Turnpike construction projects.

Scott's budget was based on preliminary figures provided by the Department of Transportation, and the bond amount will be adjusted in the Legislature's final budget after the completed work plan is submitted Feb. 26, a DOT spokesman said Friday.

The record budget proposals were released after state economists on Jan. 19 lowered general revenue estimates for the coming fiscal year by $400 million based in part on "slightly weaker" economic forecasts for Florida and the nation, they said.

Overall, revenue estimates are still expected to be higher year-over-year with the revised fiscal 2017 forecast projecting growth of $1.2 billion or 4.4% over fiscal 2016.

The legislative session runs through March 11.

 

 

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