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Budget Blues

May 11th, 2009 by flanews

Heath Care, education and law enforcement groups are calling on the legislature to change the way it balances the budget. The budget passed Friday relies on increased fees, stimulus dollars, and spending cuts to make ends meet. As Whitney Ray tells us, the groups are calling for more tax reform to bring the state out of the economic crisis.

Higher fees on drivers, a cigarette tax and spending cuts will help fill a three billion dollar state budget hole. Lawmakers went into overtime to balance next years budget, but many complaints remain. State workers, including many law enforcement officers, will see a pay cut.

They really got hammered this year. They are going to take a two percent pay cut most of them, said PBA Spokesman Matt Puckett.

Democrats pushed for tax reform to save state employees from the budget ax.

There were things left on the table, there were lots of ideas, said Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda.

Calls to end sales tax exemptions on bottled water and 50 other items and services were killed. A plan to collect taxes on internet sales also fell by the wayside. Instead lawmakers turned to Washington.

Federal stimulus dollars saved the state budget this go round, but the cash runs out soon. Advocacy groups say stimulus dollars are allowing the legislature to postpone the problem. John Hall with the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy said tax reform cant wait.

Florida can broaden the base of its taxation. Lower the rate and produce a revenue structure that fairer, able to withstand economic downturns and better meet the needs of this great state, said Hall.

Advocacy groups say theyll spend the rest of the year trying to convince legislative leaders to consider new tax ideas. None of the spending cuts in the state budget is final just yet. Governor Charlie Crist still has to sign off on the deal, but hell likely make few changes.

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

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