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Crist Calls for Spending Increase

February 1st, 2010 by flanews

Governor Charlie Crist wants to increase state spending while lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce government. Crist’s plan holds state workers harmless, increases school spending and pumps millions into environmental projects. As Whitney Ray tells us, lawmakers call Crist’s plan “ambitious.”

After four straight years of declining revenues, Governor Charlie Crist is calling for an increase in state spending.

“We have got to move forward on education, that we have a recommitment to our environment and I think those two things are important to Florida’s economy,” said Crist.

Crist’s budget increases education funding by half a billion dollars, pumps 100 million into the environment and offers tax breaks to businesses. Florida TaxWatch calls the proposal optimistic.

“It doesn’t really get into cutting government and getting into what normal Floridians are doing, tightening their belt, finding ways to do more with less, focusing on core services and eliminating operational expenditures,” said Rob Weissert a spokesman with Florida TaxWatch.

Crist’s spending plan relies heavily on money from increased gambling, raids on trust funds and an uptick in revenue collections.

Over the past five months the state has collected more money than predicted, that trend is expected to continue.

Money from fee increases could also pump millions into the state’s checking account, but state lawmakers aren’t sure the boost will be enough.

“It’s ambitious. It’s our job to look at his categorization of the various priorities of spending and then craft a budget in cooperation with the senate,” said State Representative Dean Cannon.

If revenues don’t increase as much as the governor predicts, and a gaming compact isn’t reached, lawmakers will have to make tough decisions that could include spending cuts and possible layoffs.

One of Crist’s ideas receiving applause from Republican legislative leaders is reworking the class size amendment. State lawmakers are scheduled to unveil a plan tomorrow that would base class size on school populations instead of individual classes.

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