FL House: Spend money on teachers and veterans - WFLA News Channel 8

FL House: Spend money on teachers and veterans

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TALLAHASSEE, FL -

Republicans in the Florida House want to use tens of millions from a national settlement with major banks to help teachers, nurses and veterans get homes.
    
The House on Monday unveiled a comprehensive proposal to spend $200 million that the state received as part of a national settlement reached between lenders and 49 states.
    
"This bill helps repair damage done to our housing market and our state by certain lenders and will assist many Floridians in attaining home ownership or securing affordable housing," said House budget chairman Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland.
    
A large segment of the money - $45 million - would provide up to $10,000 worth of down payment assistance loans to teachers, veterans, active-duty military personnel, nurses, doctors and state attorneys and public defenders.
    
The teachers would have to teach in a poorly-rated public school and also must have high marks on their personnel evaluations. Nurses, doctors and other health care providers would have to work in a rural area to qualify for the down payment assistance.
    
The loans eventually could be forgiven if those who receive them do not change jobs. The person who gets the assistance would also have to stay in the home for at least four years
    
Attorney General Pam Bondi - who signed off on the national settlement - said in a written statement that she supported the ideas offered by the House.
    
"Consistent with the letter and spirit of the national mortgage settlement, the House bill would provide substantial housing-related assistance to Floridians throughout our state," Bondi said.
    
The House also proposes to spend $35 million with Habitat for Humanity on reconstructing houses and $20 million on domestic violence centers. Part of the overall total set aside by the House would also go to reduce rent for poor and elderly people.
    
Five major lenders last year reached a $25 billion settlement with attorneys general across the nation to end investigations over foreclosure abuses. Of that total, an estimated $8 billion is available to help homeowners in Florida including $170 million in payments to people who lost their homes to foreclosure.
    
The state received $334 million directly under the settlement but Bondi and legislators quietly feuded for months over who would control the money. They finally reached a deal last November. A legislative panel in January approved spending some of the money on down payment assistance and helping the court system deal with foreclosure cases.
    
The lengthy proposal for the national settlement money came the same day that the House and Senate approved frameworks for a new state budget. The House's initial proposal includes setting aside money for a pay raise for state employees.

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