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White House: Proposal Would Create Or Save 60K Fla. Jobs

TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) -- If Congress were to approve President Obama's jobs plan it could mean more than $7 billion for Florida and administration officials say it could create or save more than 60,000 jobs.

The proposal sent to Congress this week by the President would put $1.5 billion into transportation projects in Florida that would mean more than 20,000 jobs, according to White House numbers, though the projected numbers haven't been vetted by any state or independent source.

The plan would also mean an additional $1.6 billion for Florida to pay teachers and emergency first responders in an effort to avoid layoffs. Another $1.2 billion under the bill would be earmarked for school construction in Florida. Another $288 million would go to community colleges in the state next year, the White House said.

The White House also is touting the plan's proposed tax savings. Officials said under Obama's proposal, 410,000 Florida businesses would get a payroll tax cut. The administration also is seeking to continue the payroll tax cut passed late last year. White House officials say that would mean savings of about $1,400 for the average Florida family, which has a median income of around $46,000.

If passed, the measure also could allow for Florida to receive grants of up to $2.7 billion through a competition with other states for refurbishing rundown urban areas.

So far, details about exactly what projects would be funded by the so-called "American Jobs Act," have been scarce – it's not clear how much of the money would be earmarked to specific projects and how much might be turned over to the states to decide the specifics.

Gov. Rick Scott has in the past in some cases rejected federal infrastructure money – and declined to compete for certain other pots of money. A spokesman said Tuesday that Scott will wait to see the plan details before deciding whether the state should take any of the money. The governor's office also released a statement on it from Scott.

"The positive is, the president is focusing on the economy. That's the biggest issue we're facing," Scott said in the statement. "But the devil is in the details, and I have some concerns on how the $447 billion plan might be paid for."

Even advocates for additional spending on certain policy areas agreed that it was hard to react without more details.

"Anytime anyone's talking about … providing additional badly needed resources I view that as a positive step," said Doug Callaway, president of Floridians for Better Transportation. But without knowing where the money will come from, and what strategy will be used when allocating it, Callaway said it was hard to say how much support it would get, even from advocates for transportation infrastructure investment. "Where's the money coming from to pay for this and can the federal government afford to pay for this? And that clearly is in doubt," Callaway said.

Legislative leaders in Florida have also been skeptical of additional spending without offsetting it, and the Republicans in charge of the Legislature have also generally opposed Democratic efforts to boost the economy. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, called the president's speech "stimulus II," in indicating he wasn't fond of the proposal.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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