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    Governor dismisses claims that tax cuts spurred budget deficit

    By STEVE BOUSQUET

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published July 28, 2001


    TALLAHASSEE -- Responding to Democratic critics, Gov. Jeb Bush said Friday that even if he hadn't pushed for $1.6-billion in tax cuts the past three years, the state still would be suffering a budget shortfall.

    "There's a general drumbeat from the other side," Bush said of Democrats, "that had we not had the tax cuts, we wouldn't have this shortfall.

    "That's just not accurate. The money still would have been spent," Bush said in a telephone call to the St. Petersburg Times. "We would have the same situation we have today."

    Senate Democratic Leader Tom Rossin, D-West Palm Beach, called the governor "dead wrong."

    Rossin said government programs would not feel the pinch of a tight economy if they had more money to work with.

    Bush is optimistic about the state's economic future, but he has taken the extraordinary step of holding back 1 percent of executive branch agencies' budgets in the first quarter of the fiscal year that began July 1.

    With sales and corporate tax receipts leveling off, state analysts say, Florida is about $150-million below what economists thought would be available when the new budget was being written last spring.

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