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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Gov. Rick Scott signs billion-dollar business incentives plan into law

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott signed a number of business tax cuts he says will accelerate economic development in the state. The economic development package includes more than $1 billion in tax cuts for businesses over the next three years. It features broad cuts of the unemployment tax and the corporate income tax, and targeted reductions for manufacturers, private plane repairers, and fruit and meat packers. Scott said it's difficult to say definitively how certain targeted tax cuts will lead to job creation, but noted that the package helps make Florida a more competitive state for business expansion. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Florida Trend Exclusive
Florida real estate price points

Port St. Lucie
A $200,000 home in
Orange Park.
Coral Gables
$1,000,000 will buy you a beachfront home on Ponte Vedra Beach.
What kind of home can you buy in Florida for $200,000, $500,000 or $1,000,000? Compare communities in the interactive photo galleries listed below. The galleries feature representative homes that demonstrate what different dollar amounts will currently buy. (This is the last installment in a three-part series.)

» View more Price Points around the state.

Rubio endorses Romney, says GOP primary should end

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida endorsed Mitt Romney as the party's presidential nominee Wednesday night, saying it's increasingly clear that Romney will win the nomination and that continuing the primary fight will only damage the effort to defeat President Barack Obama. Rubio's endorsement followed that of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and came a day before former President George H.W. Bush was to back Romney. Rubio had pledged to stay neutral in the race. [Source: Fort Myers News-Press]

» Related commentary: Rubio shouldn't jump at VP job

Florida not producing enough college graduates to meet demand

Florida is not producing enough college graduates to meet the projected job market needs by 2018, according to a new report from the Lumina Foundation. The report projects 59 percent of jobs will require a college degree by 2018, but Florida will fall far short of that mark at its current pace. [Source: State Impact]

» See the Projected Degree Gap graphic.

Mixed economic reports for Florida's major metro regions

The Brookings Institute has been tracking the nation's largest 100 metropolitan areas for economic performance. Brookings looks at four categories when they rank metro regions: employment change; unemployment rate change; gross metropolitan product change; and housing price index change. Below are the eight metro regions in Florida that Brookings tracks, with their overall rating and links to each report (in PDF form.)

» Cape Coral - Fort Myers (Among the strongest 20 metros nationally)

» North Port - Bradenton - Sarasota (Second strongest 20 metros)

» Miami - Fort Lauderdale - Pompano (Middle 20 metros)

» Orlando - Kissimmee (Middle 20 metros):

» Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater (Second weakest 20 metros):

» Jacksonville (Weakest 20 metros):

» Lakeland - Winter Haven (Weakest 20 metros):

» Palm Bay - Melbourne - Titusville (Weakest 20 metros):



You are invited to a free Web chat on trends in Florida real estate.

When: Weds, April 4 @ 11:00 a.m.
Where: FloridaTrend.com/chats

This is your chance to discuss all things real estate with Florida Trend's South Florida editor Mike Vogel and two experts:
• Dr. John Tuccillo, Florida Realtors Chief Economist
Lewis M. Goodkin, Real Estate Analyst, President of Goodkin Consulting

» Go to FloridaTrend.com/chats and sign up for an e-mail alert!

› Pam Bondi finds spotlight outside Supreme Court

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi became the unofficial spokeswoman for the 26 states that challenged the health care law to the Supreme Court. Beaming on Wednesday after the historic three-day arguments in front of the Supreme Court, Bondi said she thought it went "very well, once again." And insisted that Florida’s opposition to the signature achievement of President Barack Obama’s administration is on constitutional, not political grounds.

» Related: Health care law battered in three days of Supreme Court arguments

› Tampa proposes limits on protests at Republican convention
Inside a proposed "public viewing area" near the Republican National Convention, protesters could demonstrate to their hearts' content under rules proposed Wednesday by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's administration. The city might even lend them a microphone. But outside that area, parades and protests couldn't last more than 60 minutes. A key reason: With feel-like temperatures in the triple digits in late August, police have told city attorneys that officers in body armor shouldn't work outside for more than an hour without a break.

› Scott names DCF secretary as his new Chief Operating Officer, giving him two jobs
As if being head of the Department of Children and Families weren't enough, Gov. Rick Scott today appointed David Wilkins to a new role as Florida’s Chief Operating Officer for Government Operations. According to a statement from the governor's office, Wilkins "will serve in this role in addition to his role as Secretary of the Department of Children and Families."

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› EVENT: Unusual water summit at USF to explore how 'Environmental Humanities Meets Public Policy'
All Floridians are invited to a fusion of water and the humanities hosted by USF St. Petersburg's Florida Studies Program Friday night. The idea is to explore art and literature as bridges to solve water problems and overcome divisions of politics and culture. Former Gov. Bob Martinez will give the keynote address. A panel discussion will include journalist Cynthia Barnett (Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crises) and writers Bill Belleville, Jack Davis, Christopher Meindl, Steven Noll and Margaret Ross Tolbert. The March 30th forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at 1000 3rd Street South in St. Petersburg, the former Dali museum, known as Harbor Hall. It's free and open to the public but organizers ask that attendees RSVP.

› Florida must pay for autism therapy for poor kids, judge says
Florida healthcare regulators have left autistic children from impoverished families at risk of "irreversible" harm by refusing to pay for a critical therapy that can help them lead more normal lives, a Miami federal judge has ruled. In a blistering order, Lenard saod "It is imperative that autistic children in Florida receive [behavioral therapy] immediately to prevent irreversible harm to these children’s health and development."

› Southwest Florida's first rum distillery to debut in Cape Coral
The Wicked Dolphin, the first rum distillery in Southwest Florida, expects to start production in May and have its spirits in stores, restaurants and bars sometime around October, said Chris Spiro, a partner in the $2 million venture. Video: