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Manatee legislators eye additional federal billions

BRADENTON — As the U.S. Congress today prepared to pass a $789 billion federal stimulus plan in an effort to revive the lagging economy, state legislators were re-imagining their budget picture with welcome additional billions they expect as Florida’s share.

“It looks like it’s one-time, one-shot money,” said Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, chosen recently as the new speaker pro tem of the Florida House of Representatives. “It’s not official yet.”

With Reagan was state Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, the chairman of the House rules committee, who said that right now, the budget for the upcoming fiscal year sports “a $6 billion hole.”

But with news reports from Washington, they were already mentally recasting the budget picture, a billion here, a billion there.

Federal money could start flowing to the state as early as 30 days after President Obama signs the stimulus legislation, Reagan said.

Congress hopes to get the stimulus package to the president’s desk perhaps as early as this weekend, according to news reports from Washington.

The money is not expected to arrive in a single lump sum, but will find its way into state coffers from as many as five different channels, Reagan said.

Its timing is problematic, depending upon when the legislation is passed, when it is signed, and how it percolates down to the states, he added.

Sara Kennedy, Bradenton Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 708-7908 or at skennedy@bradenton.com

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