Florida budget woes continue

11/15/07 Mitch E. Perry
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State economists in Tallahassee yesterday said that the the state will lose $2.5-billion from next year's budget. They also said state tax collections are down for the second straight year.

This is the first time since the early 1970s that the state has recorded two consecutive years of declining income.

Gov. Charlie Crist told reporters yesterday that the disappointing news is another reason Floridians should vote for the constitutional amendment on property taxes next year. Crist said, “Vote 'Yes' on Jan. 29!"

"There will be more money in people's pockets to spend, and some of it comes into the treasury,” Crist said.

But for residents who don’t move, the average tax cut is expected to only be around $240 if the amendment passes.

Florida Democratic House Leader Dan Gelber says he doesn’t think the Legislature is up for correcting the tax system in Florida.

A new Mason-Dixon poll released today shows 56 percent of voters support the property tax cut proposal on the Jan. 29 ballot. That follows a St. Petersburg Times poll that found 53 percent support the proposal. Those are solid majorities, but still off the 60 percent required for approval.

On Wednesday, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio laid off an additional 100 city workers; she said the layoffs were in response to budget shortfalls from property tax changes.

Rebecca O’Hara is legislative director for the Florida League of Cities, a group that opposes the proposed constitutional amendment. She says voters need to weigh the potential benefits of the January ballot measure versus local services that might affect their daily lives.

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