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Florida Senate committee approves budget

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A Florida Senate panel is signing off on a nearly $70.8 billion budget.

The Senate Budget Committee approved the budget on Wednesday, even though some legislators criticized proposed cuts included in the spending plan.

The budget cuts $400 million from the state’s public universities, including substantial cuts to the University of South Florida and University of Central Florida.

Leading Senate Republicans defended the cuts, saying universities could absorb them because they have adequate reserves.

Some USF students showed up and spoke out against the proposed cuts saying their university had been singled out. Sen. J.D. Alexander, the Senate budget chief who has clashed with USF administration, insisted that wasn’t the case.

The House has already passed its proposed 2012 budget. Lawmakers have about three weeks to work out differences.

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