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Florida Budget Woes

Harsh words are flying these days in Tallahassee. The Florida Senate is giving tentative approval to a budget plan that's already $950-million in the red. This has political leaders on the verge of a meltdown.

Florida will have 60,000 additional students show up this fall. The Senate wants to pay for them, give teachers raises, and fund medically needy projects, along with everything else, by imposing an impact fee on growth.

The yet to be determined fee would add anywhere from $100 to $500 on every $100,000 real estate transaction, new house or old.

On the other side of the capitol, House members are cutting $50 million from buying textbooks, cutting $200 million from affordable housing and slicing other programs. Panhandle Rep. Don Brown says taxes in Florida have outpaced growth.

"It would lead me to the conclusion that what we need is not necessarily more revenue, but spending discipline," Rep Brown said.

Republican House members held a secret caucus at this downtown hotel earlier this week where they urged their members to hold the line against the senate plan.

A House document suggests creating an impact fee on housing would cut 14,000 families out of the market. Majority Leader Marco Rubio says the house won't bend on the fee.

"We have got figures that show that is does have a real impact," Rubio said.

With no signs of compromise on the horizon lawmakers are edging towards costly $40,000 a day special session about a dozen counties already levy an impact fee on new construction. The Senate plan would replace those with a statewide fee on all real estate transactions, including raw land.


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