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Lawmakers Reach Budget Agreement

January 11th, 2009 by flanews

State lawmakers have reached an agreement on how to fill the states 2.4 billion dollar budget shortfall. The package includes a billion dollars in spending cuts on education, health care and social services. Traffic fines will go up to help fund courts and prisons. As Whitney Ray tells us, Democrats say new taxes should have been part of the package.

Hear it Here: Lawmakers Reach Budget Agreement

Schools are taking the biggest blow from the budget ax. Lawmakers are agreeing to cut a half billion dollars in education spending. Health care will also suffer. Republican lawmakers are applauding their efforts to balance the budget without raising taxes.

A lot of folk though we were going to have to raise taxes or find other revenues, but we lived within the means of the resources that the people of Florida has sent us. We didnt raise taxes. We cut existing expenditures and I think everybody can be proud of that, said Republican Representative David Rivera.

But Democrats disagree. They wanted taxes on the table, including a cigarette tax, to save schools and health care from the budget ax

A lot of programs that are important or vital to our communities will be eliminated or will go unfunded, and now we will have to go back and find ways to fund those in the regular session, said Democratic Representative Alan Williams.

While taxes wont increase, traffic fines will. Running a red light will soon cost drivers $208 dollars. Speeding violations are also going up. The increased fines will help fund the states courts and prisons.

Other state programs will be saved by trust fund dollars. To get through the year lawmaker will borrow $700 million dollars from the Lawton Chiles trust fund. Lawmakers will review the budget this week and take a final vote on Friday. From there the budget goes to the Governor for final approval.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Legislature, State Budget, State News | No Comments »

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