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Budget Cuts Higher Than Expected

March 11th, 2008 by flanews

Floridas economic health is deteriorating. Economist met Tuesday in Tallahassee to estimate how much money the state will have in the general fund next year. As Whitney Ray tells us early estimates show a deficit of nearly 3 billion dollars.

Hear it here: Budget Cuts Higher Than Expected

Sales tax collections and real estate taxes remain down. Even liquor and cigarette tax collections are slow. Tuesday the news went from bad to worse. Economists say Floridas budget will have even less money than once thought. Lawmakers say the cuts will continue.

Unfortunately its going to mean programs and services are not only going to be cut, but eliminated all together, said state representative Curtis Richardson.

Whats eliminated is still to be decided. This is the first time in state history that lawmakers have had less money two years in a row to balance the budget and they dont see relief in sight. Lawmakers are getting ready to cut an extra 500 million dollars from this years budget. Education will take the brunt of the blow, with schools losing more than 300 million. Lawmakers say with such a huge deficit nothing is safe from next years budget cuts.

I dont think theres any sacred cow in Tallahassee, business are having to reduce families are, government will as well, state representative Ray Sansom said.

Floridas hospitals have already seen a billion dollar cut in reimbursements. The news of a larger than expected deficit worries executives.

Hospitals will have to decide will there remain trauma centers. Hospitals will have to decide, will they continue to do burn centers, will they continue to offer neonatal level three centers, all those services which are very costly tend to lose money and hospitals will have to evaluate if they continue to offer them, said Rich Rasmussen, a spokesperson for the Florida Hospital Association.

The governor continues to say the state can avoid big cuts by dipping into its rainy day fund, but so far lawmakers only see clouds.

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