Florida Budget Battle Continues

A Florida House committee is doing battle over a GOP proposal to slash the budget by more than $3.5 billion.

Until now, it's been nothing but talk...Rumors about potentially crippling cuts across every area of Florida’s budget. Well, Wednesday, in a standing-room-only meeting of the house appropriations committee, the republican majority voted to convert all that talk into reality.

“This is a balanced budget and it is done without raising taxes, and I think that's what the citizens of this state wanted from us and expect of us,” said Majority Leader Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

On that, Brevard County Sheriff's Commander David McCormick and his colleagues couldn't disagree more. They're here to protest the budget's overhaul of public pensions.

It's a move that for the first time would require them to contribute up to five percent of their pay toward retirement, while also raising their retirement age.

“I think the people of Brevard County, or their local communities, will pay more, because they will be constantly trying to re-train and keep qualified people,” McCormick said.

Controversy's also erupting over a plan to privatize 16 of Florida’s prisons. It was quietly tucked into the budget, but the head of the state's correctional officer union is loudly condemning the plan as a threat to public safety.

“We will be coming back soon, and you'll be dealing with a bigger, badder problem than you have right now,” said Jimmy Baiardi.

The appropriations committee approved the budget on a party line vote, with every democrat voting 'no'. It now heads to the full House, where debate could begin as early as next week.

The house republican budget plan would also cut public school funding by $450 per student. Nursing homes would see a $200 million reduction in Medicaid funding.

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