- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday released a nearly $79.3 billion proposed budget for 2016-17 that is roughly 1 percent larger than this year’s budget. Here’s a few key items you should know about:

- EDUCATION: Scott has proposed raising public school spending by $507 million, which translates into a nearly 2.6 percent increase. The per-pupil spending amount would be $7,220.59. That’s the highest dollar amount ever, but it falls below previous years after it is adjusted for inflation.

- PROPERTY TAXES: The governor’s increased money for public schools, as it did last year, relies on a rise in property values that is expected to generate nearly $427 million in additional local property taxes. Schools in Florida are paid through a combination of state and local money.

- PAY RAISES: Scott is not recommending any across-the-board pay raises for state workers, but he is recommending performance bonuses that could be worth up to $1,500 for each employee. He is also proposing a raise for crime lab analysts.

- TUITION: The governor wants to keep college and university tuition at its current levels.

- PRISONS: The budget proposal calls for an $82 million increase for the Department of Corrections. The money would be used to hire 472 correctional officers, reopen some facilities and spend $36 million on repair and renovations to prisons.

- ENVIRONMENT: Scott has proposed $151 million for Everglades restoration, $25 million for beach restoration and $50 million to help restore and improve water quality at the state’s freshwater springs. The budget also includes $63 million for land acquisition program. He also has proposed $8.5 million for citrus greening research and $230,000 to try to reduce conflicts between bears and humans.

- HEALTH INSURANCE: Scott recommends for the sixth year in a row that he and other top state officials pay the same for health insurance as rank-and-file state workers. Scott currently pays less than $400 a year for family coverage. Legislators have rejected this proposal previously.

- BUDGET CUTS: Scott is recommending cuts in several areas, including the elimination of nearly 900 jobs. Scott is also not replacing federal money that Florida hospitals are losing as a result of changes to the state’s Low Income Pool program.

- TAXES: Scott is recommending several different tax cuts that would total nearly $600 million in the first year but which would eventually total up to roughly $1 billion. Most of these tax cuts would be targeted toward businesses, including eliminating corporate income taxes for manufacturers and retailers. Scott is also proposing to keep intact a sales tax exemption on college textbooks. He is also proposing a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday and a 9-day sales tax holiday on hurricane supplies

- ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The governor wants to create a $250 million “Florida Enterprise Fund” that would be used to lure new businesses to the state. He also wants $80 million for Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency.


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