Friday, June 14, 2024

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Article Icon 1DeSantis Signs $116.5 Billion Budget

The “Focus on Florida’s Future” state budget was signed into law on Wednesday by Governor Ron DeSantis after he vetoed $1 billion in programs from the spending plan.

The budget is for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and features $28.4 billion in K-12 schools spending, a $1.8 billion increase from last year. 

There’s also $14.5 billion for the Florida Department of Transportation’s main work program, a $500 million increase on the current year. Florida’s taxpayers can expect $1.5 billion in tax relief in the coming year, including $450 million in toll relief.

“This budget delivers historic support for education, infrastructure, and conservation, yet spends less than the year before and includes major tax relief,” said Governor DeSantis. 

Article Icon 1 Orange Crop Projections Up Slightly

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday released a monthly forecast that showed only a slight uptick from May projections for the state’s orange crop.

With one leader saying it is on the “brink of a disaster,” Florida’s citrus industry is nearing the end of the growing season and is showing little growth from the previous hurricane-marred season.

The forecast for the overall citrus harvest is about 11 percent higher than last year’s yield, but that 2022-2023 total was the lowest in more than nine decades.

Florida citrus growers are seeking innovative solutions to overcome drought across the citrus belt, recover from 2022 hurricanes Ian and Nicole, and combat the citrus greening disease.

Article Icon 1 State on Track for Record Tourism 

More than 40 million people visited Florida from January through March according to Visit Florida—the highest number ever recorded for a single quarter.

Revised numbers also show that 140.6 million people visited Florida in all of 2023, a new record for the state and a 2.3% increase from 2022’s visitation numbers.

Domestic visits hit a new high of 37.2 million, while those traveling from other countries remained about the same. Canadian travelers alone rose to 1.3 million.

Florida theme parks are seeing a jump in traffic, especially as new rides and attractions open this month, like DreamWorks at Universal Studios Orlando and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom.

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Around Florida
South Florida

A state of emergency for Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade, and Sarasota counties was issued late Wednesday due to flooding rains. More than 25 inches of rain has already slammed South Florida, and more rain is expected today. (See Video)

Zoox, an Amazon subsidiary, announced plans Wednesday to begin testing its autonomous taxis this summer in Miami and Austin, Texas. Mapping of Miami roadways began this spring. (See Details)

Central Florida

➤ St. Petersburg: Contrary to reports, Detwiler’s Farm Market has no plans for a location in St. Pete. The Sarasota-based grocer became a trending topic following a June 6 city council meeting discussion about Tangerine Plaza and potential redevelopment. (More)

Universal Orlando opened DreamWorks Land today, featuring Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and the Trolls. The new area replaces Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, a play area that closed in 2023 after nearly 25 years. (More)

North Florida

Jacksonville officials agreed on Tuesday to offer $7.7 million in incentives to an autonomous vehicle company. Code-named Project Link, the company will build a $100-million, 450,000-square-foot assembly plant on 40 acres. (More)

Space Coast:  SpaceX is drawing local criticism for its plan to increase the number of launches of its 492-foot-tall Starship-Super Heavy rockets to 44 times per year at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (More)

The Panhandle

 Panama City: City Commissioners awarded a $500,000 bid to demolish the Marina Civic Center, which was severely damaged during Hurricane Michael. Demolition should be completed by August. (More)

Tallahassee: The 77th Annual Tony Awards this Sunday will recognize longtime local music director Alison Grimes of the Young Actors Theatre at Lincoln Center. She’s receiving an Honorable Mention for Excellence in Theatre Education (More)

Texas Sports

➤ The Panthers held off the Oilers’ comeback and won 4-3 last night, taking a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. The Panthers scored three goals in the second period, putting the game out of reach. Game 4 is Saturday night in Edmonton, at 8 ET. (More)

➤ Florida ranks as the best state for water sports in the country, according to a new list from The state has the best access to public beaches, the most water parks (18), online boat rentals (2,879), marine stores (5,283), and boat yards (8,132). (More)

➤ The Formula E World Championship electric car racing series announced it will return to Miami in 2025 for the first time in a decade. The April 12 event will be at the NASCAR-owned Miami-Homestead Speedway. (More)

Yesterday’s Results: MLB NHL WNBA 

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The Business Of Texas

 The Commercial Lease Sales Tax rate was cut for small businesses on Wednesday at a Florida Cabinet meeting. Officials say the sales tax will reduce from 4.5% to 2%, which could give Florida employers about $1 billion in tax relief. (More)

 Jack in the Box, a popular West Coast food chain, is expanding to Florida. Future development commitments include 10 locations in Orlando and five in Tallahassee. (More)

Ft. Myers: Bonita Bill’s waterfront cafe, a well-known slice of Southwest Florida life, was listed for sale this week. The decision came from the estate of owner Bill Semmer, who died in January 2023. (See Photos)

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 GoDonut is a clever and convenient stand for phones, tablets, and e-readers that make it easy to enjoy your mobile devices anywhere, hands-free. (See it here)  

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Et Cetera

➤ A new poll by Florida Atlantic University shows former President Trump leading President Joe Biden by four points, 46% to 42% in the state. That lead grew to six points among those identifying as “likely” voters. (More)

➤ Florida is no longer the top state for move-ins according to a report by PODS, the moving container company. Due to a lower cost of living, North and South Carolina, along with Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama, top the list. (More)

Miami chef Valerie Change won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: South on Monday, the only chef to win the award in Florida. The Peruvian-born chef’s Midtown restaurant, Maty’s, has earned national praise. (More)

Florida ranked as the worst state for singles in 2024, according to a new study. The top three best states were Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Louisiana. (See Why)

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The Polling Station

Which new theme park addition are you most excited about? 

  1. DreamWorks at Universal
  2. 5th Disney Theme Park
  3. Not interested in either

Thursday’s Results:

Have you ever visited a Florida Winery?

    1. Yes: 45.2%
    2. No: 54.8%
Texas Trivia

What is the name of the Key West landmark museum that was once the 1930s residence of a famous American author?

Show me the answer

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