Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
Reporter James L. Rosica covers state government from the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau. Email
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Budget Deal Hits Chiles, Housing Trust Funds
Posted Jan 11, 2009 by William March
Updated Jan 11, 2009 at 03:12 PM
Working late into Saturday night and early this morning, Florida legislative leaders crafted a deal to close the state’s budget gap using more than half the state’s reserve funds plus big dollops from trust funds intended for specific purposes, including the Lawton Chiles Endowment anti-tobacco fund.
The Chiles fund, from which interest normally pays for child welfare, child and elderly health care programs and anti-smoking efforts, lost $700 million, more than half the assets in the fund.
A trust fund intended to provide low-income housing lost $190 million. But the trust fund that pays for transportation projects was spared, according to state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who had championed the cause.
By raiding the trust funds and cutting planned spending, the Legislature came up with about $2.5 billion to close the gap in the $66.3 billion budget. That’s a larger amount than expected because tax collections and other state revenue have continued to decline since the deficit was estimated at $2.3 billion.
The Legislature is expected to cast its final vote adopting the budget deal Wednesday.
The legislation implementing the cuts is almost too difficult for a laymen, including reporters, to follow unaided. But if you want to get a sense of the kind of cuts the Legislature inflicted on schools, universities, health care programs, and on and on, you can see the 135-page Conference Committee Report for Senate Bill 2A here.
We’ll be reporting more details as we learn them.