Fla. lawmakers take up $74 billion budget

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida legislators are taking their first votes this year on a new state budget.

A Senate budget panel on Wednesday gave swift approval to a proposed $74 billion budget. A House panel is scheduled to vote during the afternoon.

Fueled by growth adding to the state's bottom line, the proposed budgets include more money for public schools and raises for state workers.

This year's proposals are a turnaround from the last few years when lawmakers were forced to cut funding for public schools and universities.

Lawmakers have until early May to send a new budget to Gov. Rick Scott that covers state spending from July 1, 2013 until June 2014.

While there are differences in the rival plans there's not enough to keep from legislators ending their work on time.

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