WTVY  | Dothan, AL  | Politics, News

Florida Facing $2 Billion Budget Shortfall

Ring one up for Florida's economy. After a tough recession, people are finally spending more.

Nearly $70 million more than economists expected, but in the grand scheme, it may not be nearly enough to avoid another round of painful cuts.

"I wouldn't expect that it's going to help the legislature in terms of having a lot of new money to ease the situation," said state economist Amy Baker.

A situation involving what we now know will be a $2 billion budget deficit.

Governor Scott's asking the legislature to tackle it by cutting the Medicaid program for the second year in a row.

"They're lost."

Carl Galloway's come to Tallahassee all the way from Maitland to plead with lawmakers not just to avoid any further cuts, but to restore the funding they've already eliminated.

His son, C.H., is suffering from nonverbal autism, and without Medicaid coverage Carl says there's no way he'd be able to afford the therapy C.H. needs.

"We may have to sell everything we have and also be able to try to get funding in more ways than we ever thought possible."

Democrats say there's a way to help people like Carl - raise taxes. But the Capitol's firmly in the hands of republicans who are taking tax hikes off the table.

"It's going to be tough in this tough financial time, and if we don't look at any additional revenue sources, it's going to require cuts, and so, that's going to be the tough part of our session," said Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne.

A session bound to bring some difficult choices and a repeat visit by Carl.

"We're in a mine field. You don't run. You walk slowly, and you take it one step at a time."

Now that the final numbers are out, appropriations committees in the Senate plan to begin finding areas to cut the week of January 23. There had been talk of going into overtime to tackle the budget, but lawmakers are now more confident they can wrap up on time.

Scott also wants lawmakers to boost public school funding by a billion dollars. To do that, lawmakers would have to slash even more.


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