Last week, Gov Scott formally introduced his proposed budget for the upcoming 2011 – 2012 and 2012 – 2013 fiscal years. The unusual biennial budget proposal would reduce state-mandated property taxes by $1.4 billion, reduce the corporate income tax rate from 5.5 percent to three percent, and require state and local government workers to contribute five percent of their salary toward their retirement plans, among other provisions. In addition, the proposal would not “buy back” or replace federal education stimulus dollars with state general revenue, resulting in more than a $3 billion reduction in spending on education, and would outsource the operation of the three remaining mental health hospitals operated by the Department of Children and Families. The proposal also would eliminate the State Housing (Sadowski) Trust Fund, funding affordable housing out of state general revenue. Under Gov. Scott's plan, the state budget would be reduced from approximately $70 billion to $63 billion by the 2012 – 2013 fiscal year, and authorized positions would be reduced from approximately 126,700 to 113,900. Reaction from Republican legislative leaders was cautiously optimistic, while the reception by lawmakers in budget committees, such as education, was more critical. Committee meetings this week in the Legislature will be almost entirely devoted to building the House and Senate budget proposals.