Florida lawmakers pass record $88.7 billion budget: With the only nays coming from Dems in the Republican-controlled Florida House and Senate, lawmakers concluded an annual session that ran two days into overtime after they failed to agree on a budget by deadline. On top of the budget's passage, Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation that provides record funding for Bright Futures college scholarships and continues expanding voucher-like programs for children to attend private schools.
UCF names Dale Whittaker as new president: The board convened on campus Friday morning to publicly interview four nominees vying for the presidential throne – and provost Dale Whittaker, UCF's second-highest ranking official, got the nod to replace President John C. Hitt when he retires this summer after 26 years of service. "I'm ready, I'm capable," he told the board, "and fundamentally, you know my values." If confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors, Whittaker will take office the day after Hitt retires.
Details of a Titusville school shooting threat were kept secret for a year: Parents of students at Astronaut High School learned just last week that two 17-year-old male students were expelled last year after threatening to attack the school. The public was informed of the incident via an automated phone call to parents early last week. School officials said they didn't disclose the threat sooner due to an active police investigation.
Report says gun violence costs Florida $5 billion a year: A new report from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control nonprofit, finds that Floridians are spending more than $5 billion a year on the direct costs of firearm-related injuries. Per the report, Florida sees an average of 827 gun-related homicides, 1,538 gun-related suicides, 1,694 nonfatal interpersonal shootings and 1,773 unintentional shootings a year. All of those shootings lead to health expenditures and other associated costs.
Florida senators received jars of tar and feathers following gun vote: Not long after state senators passed a bill that raised the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 and imposed a minimum three-day waiting period on gun purchases, GOP senators received jars of tar and feathers sent to their office from an unknown party or parties. "From the children of Bradford County," was written in red tape across one of the Mason jars' sides. On the other side, it read, "The tar and feather enemy of freedom award." On top, the jars were decorated with a plastic "poop" emoji and a glued-on feather. It's still unclear who exactly distributed the gifts to each lawmaker's office, but aides are confident the gifts weren't from children.