Fla. budget plan to raise state money for schools

Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul issued a budget allocation plan Thursday that would increase state funding for public schools by 9 percent to offset a $788 million drop in local property tax receipts, but he warned it won’t be enough to avoid some spending cuts. Cretul also included a 19 percent increase for health care programs — with the same warning that spending and services would still have to be cut — to compensate for a possible reduction of about $1 billion in federal Medicaid dollars and a growing enrollment in the program that serves low-income patients.

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The property tax dropoff is the result of a decline in real estate values. Without additional state money, lawmakers would be faced with the prospect of raising the rate on property taxes required for school districts to qualify for state money. [Read the full article]

Citigroup Inc. CEO Vikram Pandit appeared in Washington on Thursday to tell bailout overseers that today’s Citi is not the tangled behemoth that required more than $45 billion from the government to survive the financial crisis.

Citi’s bailouts have attracted attention because it is the world’s largest financial services conglomerate, and because the government seemed endlessly willing to rework the terms of Citi’s debt in ways that helped the company — but not always taxpayers.

Here’s a look at the various stages by which the government’s stake in Citi ballooned, and how much has been paid back:

— Oct. 28, 2008: Treasury’s first round of capital injections includes $25 billion for Citi. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says the money is going to “healthy banks” to shore up the system.

— Nov. 23, 2008: Citi receives another $20 billion from Treasury under a program for banks that were already struggling. [Read the full article]

Donna Norton of Moms Rising speaks at a jobs news conference with Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Max Baucus, D-Mont., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 4, 2010.(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

Despite doubts among many lawmakers that it will create many jobs, the House on Thursday passed legislation giving companies that hire the jobless a temporary payroll tax break. The measure passed 217-201 on a mostly party-line vote. The bill also extends federal highway programs through the end of the year.

Some Democrats feel the approximately $35 billion jobs bill is too puny, while others say the tax cut for new hires won’t generate many new jobs. However, the pressure is on to address jobs and deliver a badly needed win for President Barack Obama and a Democratic Party struggling in opinion polls and facing major losses in the upcoming midterm elections. Further jobs measures are promised.

“If that’s the only thing that I can vote on … [Read the full article]

Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., right are seen at a news conference on jobs on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 4, 2010.(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

Despite doubts among many lawmakers that it will create many jobs, the House on Thursday passed legislation giving companies that hire the jobless a temporary payroll tax break. The measure passed 217-201 on a mostly party-line vote. The bill also extends federal highway programs through the end of the year.

Some Democrats feel the approximately $35 billion jobs bill is too puny, while others say the tax cut for new hires won’t generate many new jobs. However, the pressure is on to address jobs and deliver a badly needed win for President Barack Obama and a Democratic Party struggling in opinion polls and facing major losses in the upcoming midterm elections. Further jobs measures are promised.

“If that’s the only thing that I can vote on … [Read the full article]

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