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Atwater Looks the Federal Gift Horse in the Mouth

Even with an influx of Medicaid money headed Florida's way thanks to the U.S. Senate, Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, plans to continue building the budget as if the new federal funds were not coming.

This morning, Atwater released the initial draft of the budget allocations. Atwaters allocations did not take into account extra Medicaid funding. Today, the U.S. Senate passed a legislative package that extends stimulus Medicaid funds until June 2011. While the Senate and the House must now finalize the exact figure, this legislation sends anywhere between $700 million to $1 billion to the state, dramatically reducing Floridas $3.2 billion deficit.

Even with the increased Medicaid funds, Atwater intends to stick with the numbers that he released on Wednesday.

"That the U.S. Senate is making progress to pick up more of the cost of the Medicaid mandate they've placed on us is welcomed news, said Atwater. We will continue to monitor the federal government's actions closely, while proceeding to build committee budgets based on the allocations released this morning."

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