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Military Day in the Florida Senate recognized service personnel

January 31, 2012
By State Sen. LIZBETH BENACQUISTO , Lehigh Acres Citizen

I am pleased to announce that Military Day in the Florida Senate took place on January. This event was hosted to honor and recognize Florida's servicemen and women as well as its veterans in the United States Armed Forces. Military Day included a display of the Florida National Guard, a vote on Senate Bill 922, and a resolution to honor Florida Medal of Honor recipients.

The displays from the Florida National Guard in the Capitol courtyard included military vehicles, weapons, and technology. Senate Bill 922, Current and Former Military Personnel, was passed unanimously on the Senate floor.

This bill created a range of provisions designed to benefit those who serve this country and state. Highlights from SB922 include better opportunities for employment, education, and special needs of veterans in the court system. The Senate adopted a resolution to honor the Florida Medal of Honor recipients SFC Paul Smith and Staff Sgt. Robert Miller.

Miller was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during Operation Enduring Freedom, and SFC Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Additionally, Senators Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton), Charlie Dean (R-Ocala), Alan Hays (R- Umatilla), Garrett Richter (R-Naples) and John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine) were honored for their service to the United States Armed Forces.

This day successfully showed our gratitude to the servicemen and women of Florida, past and present who work tirelessly to protect our freedoms.

Bill to Provide Educational Opportunities Passes Committee

This week a bill that I filed, SB962 relating to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship was passed favorably out of the Budget Subcommittee on Finance and Tax. SB962 will allow a one-time extra bump in the statewide tax credit cap in 2012-13, from $218.7 million to $250 million which constitutes an additional increase of 14 percent.

The Florida Legislature created the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program in 2001 to help low-income students have the opportunity to attend private schools through tax credits provided to companies doing business in Florida. Current law allows for an increase in the cap by 25 percent in any year after 90 percent of the cap is reached.

My bill seeks to meet the overwhelming increase in demand for children whose low-income families qualify for the scholarship program to be able to seek a quality education they can afford. The extra bump proposed in my bill would serve an additional 6,500 low income students. The bill is now in the Budget Committee, which is its last committee stop before the Senate floor.

Sen. Benacquisto represents District 27 in the State Senate, with many of her constituents in Lehigh Acres.



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