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Monday's Daily Pulse

Lawmakers finish up budget deal

Lawmakers sealed an agreement on a $74 billion budget deal late Sunday for the fiscal year that begins July 1, locking down language on $480 million in teacher pay raises, a new formula for paying hospitals under the Medicaid program and a few projects for key lawmakers’ districts. Read more from the Times/Herald, the News Service of Florida and the AP.

See also:
» Rare Florida leadership accord activates legislative session
» After Belt Tightening, Some States Are Back In The Black

Insurance proposals imperil tourism and home-sale gains

Sharp rate increases proposed for the state's largest property insurer could threaten Florida's flagship real estate and tourism industries just as they're turning the corner from the downturn and the Gulf oil spill. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Small builders: We're shut out

Many home-grown builders cannot find money to build houses at a time when the inventory of available homes listed for sale is at its lowest point in about eight years. The community banks that wrote them checks during the peak of the market almost a decade ago are under increased scrutiny from regulators who now take a dim view of real-estate-heavy loan portfolios. [Source: Orlando Sentinel].

Parents look to the Internet for child care

At a time when babysitting horror stories are just a Google search away, moms and dads are hiring strangers to watch their kids based on website profiles and clean record guarantees rather than hiring a friend of a friend or the high school senior from church. They are finding sitters in virtual marketplaces, or filling out forms online and waiting for the nanny to arrive. And for those who need to book their sitters on the go, there’s an app for that, too. [Source: Miami Herald]

Home sizes growing again

After shrinking 10 percent during the bust, the typical new American home built last year grew to an unprecedented 2,300 square feet, U.S. census data show. Homes in the South ballooned even bigger, to nearly 2,400 square feet. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

See also:
» Housing-related businesses enjoying big bounce-back


› 'Serious-gaming' win for Orlando business
Out of a dozen entries from across the country, an Orlando-based high-tech company recently landed one of the top honors in a "serious-gaming" contest tied to the Defense Users' GameTech Conference, an industry trade show held earlier this month in Orlando.

› Northeast Florida construction jobs finally on track to grow again
University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith said that long-awaited growth is finally beginning to happen, with construction hiring trending upward. “We’ve seen in Florida growing evidence of a recovery in the housing market,” he said.

› Orlando: Where restaurants roll out new ideas
New products or menus often are tried out in Orlando because it's a big city filled with chains, a diverse population and millions of annual visitors. It is also home to several national and regional restaurant companies, which like to test close to corporate headquarters.

› Gainesville's Startup Alley covets UF computer grads
In a factory-like basement crammed with shelves loaded with electronic parts and work benches covered in computers, tools and wires, University of Florida students are getting ready to pitch their mobile phone applications to a panel of area entrepreneurs.

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› Small businesses discover social media not always best way to boost sales
The way Melissa Isenmann sees it, Facebook and cycling go together quite nicely. Isenmann, 39, is the marketing director for the Infinity Bike Shops in Melbourne and Indialantic and she has become accustomed to promoting the sport, and the business, through social media like Facebook. But here’s the problem: Not all small business operators are finding the path so smooth.

› Nonprofit hospitals: Do they give back enough?
With annual gross charges of $8 billion, Florida Hospital came in fourth out of nearly 3,000 nonprofit hospitals, according to Becker's Hospital Review, which tracks the financial data of hospitals and health systems for national comparisons.

› UF: Online courses will be of the same quality as traditional classes
Creating an online university won't be easy, but the University of Florida already has a good head start. The university has been charged with creating a complete online undergraduate degree program from start to finish. And it must have those first programs ready to launch by Jan. 1.

› 32 speakers get 5 minutes each to ignite Tampa Bay's economy, imagination
Think you can set a fire and ignite a passion under Tampa Bay in only a few minutes? It's not easy. But 32 diverse folks gave it a try in strictly enforced five-minute pitches at the landmark Tampa Theatre.