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Budget Talks Likely To Start This Weekend

The Florida House of Representatives on Opening Day session of the Legislature Jan. 12, 2016.

House and Senate leaders said late Thursday they expect formal budget negotiations to start this weekend. An email to lawmakers from Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, did not provide details.

But leaders have been trying to work out what are known as "allocations," which determine how much money will go to each broad area of the budget, such as education and health care. Conference committees then will use the allocations to make detailed spending decisions.

A key to the allocations this year is determining how much money will be set aside for tax cuts and economic-incentives funding --- Gov. Rick Scott's biggest priorities.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, a Brandon Republican who is a former Senate president, and House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, have been trying to work out the allocations.

"We are pleased with the progress President Lee and Chair Corcoran have made and are optimistic we will be ready to begin the budget conference this weekend,'' the email from Gardiner and Crisafulli said. "We will update you as early as possible tomorrow, so you can make the appropriate travel arrangements."

The annual legislative session is scheduled to end March 11.

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