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Fight Over Stimulus Dollars

March 4th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

New calculations show Florida is getting 13 point 4 billion dollars, a 1 point 2 billion dollar increase over what it thought it would get in stimulus cash. That will only intensify a brewing battle in Tallahassee over if and how lawmakers should spend stimulus money. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, many are worried the money will run out while there is still a need.

Many conservative state lawmakers dont want to spend stimulus dollars on expenses that will still be around when the money is gone.

We cannot tie our hands and accept money from the federal government with the mandate that we spend money next year, when the economy could continue to be slowing down, Rep. David Rivera (R-Miami) said.

Last night, the Governors call during the State of the State to use the money fell on deaf ears.

This money will help us avoid tax increases, Governor Crist said. It will also prevent deep cuts.

Even 3rd party groups like AARP are warning that without tax increases, the money could create more problems than it solves.

Weve got a fundamental, underlying revenue problem and we need to address that. When the stimulus goes away those problems are still going to be there, David Bundy with the Childrens Home Society said.

Despite their reluctance, in the end lawmakers may have little choice but to accept the money.

Governor Charlie Crist called agency heads together to introduce his new Stimulus Czar. Don Winstead will coordinate the states spending of the money.

We are at our best when we respond to crisis and this is a crisis, Winstead said.

And Charlie Crist is finding it hard to believe some dont want to take the money.

At the end of the day, you really dont have a whole lot of choices., Crist said.The other choices besides using the stimulus money are not that great.

Indeed, it could prove difficult for lawmakers to refuse some of the cash while cutting programs it could have otherwise saved.

The divide over whether to use the stimulus money is more philosophical than along party lines.

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

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