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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.

Reader Comments

Por (Richard Bell) on January 11, 2009 (Suggest removal)

Those idots in Tall including the Governor caused this problem to excell more than it should have inpacked the state. Admendment 1 was a major issued now for them to hit up the reserves that is a big mistake.  They should have known what the shortfalls would have been when they thought up that Admendment 1 and didnt. Dear Charlie needs to write a check to State of Florida for his vacation and wedding cost that the state paid for, would be a start

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Por (Vicki White) on January 11, 2009 (Suggest removal)

I’m trying to figure out how the governor and Florida legislators, many of whom have law degrees, don’t understand the difference between a savings account and a trust fund. There was a quote from the governor where he described the state’s trust funds as savings accounts for a rainy day. I thought that is what the state’s reserves were for. It seems that the Republican state government has chosen to let the state’s most vulnerable citizens shoulder the load of their finncial mismanagement. I hope that Bud Chiles is able to win his lawsuit because it would force Florida’s government to “grow a pair” and make some decisions that take some thought, creativity, and intestinal fortitude, rather than opting for the quick and easy fixes.

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