The old Florida capitol (Pic by Diligent Terrier, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Florida Senate passed its budget bill today with a bipartisan 33-6 vote.

The bill made cuts to higher education and health services but increased spending on K-12 education by $1 billion, much like the House bill. The Senate’s bill will now move on to a budget conference at which the House and Senate bills will be reconciled.

The Senate’s bill does differ from the House bill. For example, the Senate bill included an increase in funding for Healthy Start Coalitions and includes health services funding for migrant and seasonal farmworkers in Apopka.

Forty-one amendments were introduced for the bill, and only one failed: a proposal to strip $2 million in taxpayer funds from Florida crisis pregnancy centers.

An amendment introduced by state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, did pass. The proposal, written in response to the Senate’s failed attempt to privatize prisons, “transfers general revenue funds totaling $144,532,675 within the Department of Corrections from the Private Prison Operations appropriations category to traditional operating appropriations categories to continue state prison operations for the correctional facilities located in the 18 counties of Region IV in south Florida.”

Fasano’s office has said the amendment was an effort to make sure “the Senate budget will not have anything in it that deals with expanding private prisons.” Fasano has been opposed to the state’s plans to privatize prisons and successfully aided in shutting down the Senate leadership’s attempt to privatize 27 prisons this session.

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