St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Legislature: Senate: Money is not there
  • What's missing here?
  • Tribal leaders hear Billie's defense
  • Corrections declares end to lax house arrest rules
  • Legislature 2003: Farm workers' legislation seeks safety measurers
  • Legislature: Visit by Bucs QB turns lawmakers into giddy fans
  • Legislature: Law officers oppose Miccosukee bill
  • Around the state: Government sued over Elian raid
  • State report backs textbook reform

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story
  • tampabay.com
    Back
    Print story Reuse or republish Subscribe to the Times

    Legislature

    Senate: Money is not there

    Its budget chief says that Florida is in such dire fiscal straits it has only $53-million to cover $2-billion in services.

    By ALISA ULFERTS, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 14, 2003


    TALLAHASSEE -- The Senate painted the bleakest picture yet of the state's finances during a briefing Thursday designed to whip up public opposition to deep budget cuts and set the stage for raising more money.

    The Senate's budget chief stunned colleagues with the news that they had just $53-million to pay for $2-billion in needs.
    photo
    Pruitt
    For the first time in Florida history, the state will have less money to spend on general needs than it had the year before, said Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie.

    "The numbers don't lie," Pruitt said. "These are solid numbers. That's all there is."

    He got help from Senate Democrats who asked pointed questions about the need for cuts and said they urge constituents to let their voices be heard.

    But none of it moved Gov. Jeb Bush and the House. Bothoppose higher taxes or other ways to increase revenue, such as expanded gambling.

    Bush said he's happy to take the heat for budget cuts, if that's what it takes to pass a responsible budget.

    "I kind of have the job where they get to beat me up, so as they go through this therapeutic process of realizing they don't have as many options as they thought they might, . . . I'm more than happy to take that role," Bush said.

    House Speaker Johnnie Byrd repeated a phrase he has used numerous times during the budget debate: "The House will live within its means."

    And he sent a message to the Senate with the song he picked to close the House's Thursday session: We Are the Champions.

    "Some things are up, and some things are down. The main thing is living within your means," Byrd said.

    Rep. Bruce Kyle, R-Fort Myers and Pruitt's budget counterpart in the House, said that if the Senate really thinks it has just $53-million, it isn't "reprioritizing" spending as the House is.

    "I still believe we can draft a budget that meets the needs of Floridians and live within our means," Kyle said.

    Kyle not only opposes higher taxes. He is unwilling to consider other sources of revenue that King would consider, such as legalizing slot machines. The Senate has estimated that allowing slot machines at parimutuel facilities could raise more than $1-billion in added tax revenue.

    "I don't think we need to use a vice, such as a weakness in a certain segment of our society, to raise revenue," Kyle said.

    Pruitt noted that the Senate would not engage in the "wholesale" raiding of trust funds that Bush proposed to glean more cash for the budget. But Pruitt also was careful not to blame tax cuts the Republican-led Legislature has adopted in recent years. For example, a $100-million tax break would now cost $125-million, Pruitt said.

    "We would actually be worse off if we hadn't taken those tax cuts," Pruitt said.

    Democrats were just as eager not to let Bush blame recently approved constitutional amendments, such as the controversial class size amendment.

    Sen. Steven Geller, D-Hallandale Beach, said Bush is proposing a smaller increase in education spending than in the current budget, so it can't be the class size amendment. Bush has proposed asking voters to repeal the amendment.

    The $2-billion that Pruitt said the state needs in additional spending includes the class size amendment, elementary and higher education enrollment growth, optional health care programs for the poor, cultural and historical grants, matching state funds for federal grants and the state's rainy day fund.

    -- Times staff writers Lucy Morgan and Michael Sandler contributed to this report.

    Print story Reuse or republish Subscribe to the Times

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
     
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan


    From the Times state desk