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A Ray of Hope for The Sunshine State

June 16th, 2008 by flanews

The budget is 6 billion dollars lighter than it was a year ago, sales and corporate tax revenues continue to fall and the governor is asking state departments to hold back four percent of their budgets. Despite the failing economy Whitney Ray tells us, theres a sign things could be getting better.

Hear It Hear: A Ray of Hope for The Sunshine State

Floridians are spending less and so is big business. For May sales tax collections are 50 million dollars less than estimated. Corporate income tax is also down. Economists say declining home sales and high gas prices are hurting Florida.

We do face the challenges from rising energy prices. We got the drag on the economy from the war in Iraq which is ongoing. So weve got the challenges, said Randall Holcombe, an Economic Professor at FSU.

But this home loan paperwork could send a signal that the state is rising to the challenges. Theres a lot of paper work involved in buying a house and with the paper work comes a lot of taxes and fees.

Those collections go into the general fund as documentary stamp taxes. For May the Doc Tax came in 13 million dollars higher than expected. The Florida Realtors Association says home sales are up and an increase in the doc tax is good news.

With increases in homes sales the doc stamps goes up and that helps build the state funds, said John Sebree with the Florida Realtors Association.

Realtors say Amendment one is helping revive the states housing market. The amendment, approved by voters in January, allows homesteaded property owners to take their savings with them when they move.

Weve been talking to property appraisers across the state who are seeing a significant number, like in the thousands, of property owners who are filing for portability, said Sebree.

The Florida Realtors Association will release its latest sales figures next week… But early indications are they numbers will be up. The new budget takes effect in July First. This is the first time in the States history; Florida has had back to back budgets with less money in them than the previous year.

Senator Oppose Gay Marriage Amendment

In November Floridians will be asked if they want a gay marriage ban written into the states constitution. Florida already has a ban on gay marriage. Supporters of writing a ban into the constitution say it would better protect Florida against lawsuits. US Senator Bill Nelson said the amendment would do more than keep the state out of lawsuits. Nelson said the amendment would hurt heterosexual couples living together.

It would ban more than gay marriage. It bans any kind of sharing of property between people who are not married and I think that is why you see former Governor Bush and Governor Crist that are opposing it, said Nelson.

Sixty percent of voters would have cast ballots for the Amendment in order for the ban to be written into the state constitution.

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