Published: Apr 01, 2011 6:06 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 01, 2011 3:06 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- The Senate's Budget Committee has agreed to permanently divert $194 million annually from Florida's affordable housing program for what opponents say is a temporary revenue shortage for other state needs.

The panel also Friday voted to slash health care spending for "medically needy" patients with catastrophic illness including those needing transplants but without sufficient insurance coverage.

Builders, real estate brokers and advocates for low-income people said they didn't oppose shifting the real estate-related tax funds from affordable housing this year but argued there's no need to make that diversion permanent.

Committee Chairman JD Alexander responded that overbuilding is a big part of Florida's economic problems and the shift would still leave plenty of federal money and other funding in the program.

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