With the bang of the gavel state lawmakers began the tremendous task of filling the state’s 2.4 billion dollar budget hole. While lawmakers were cutting the budget, education and health care advocates watched in disgust.
“Florida is going to have a catastrophe because the cuts for hospitals and schools are going to get worse,” said Florida Council 79 spokesman Doug Martin.
Lawmakers are voting for a billion dollars in spending cuts. Education, health care and social service programs are hit the hardest. Democrats were voting no.
“At this point in time we have to really get rid of that philosophical divide and focus more on what we can do to help the people in the state of Florida,” said Democratic Minority Leader Franklin Sands.
Democrats say new taxes are needed to protect education and health care. Republican Will Weatherford said he can’t imagine asking Floridians for more money now.
“I can’t vote for a tax increase on a person who can’t pay their mortgage right now,” said Weatherford.
But next year’s budget is just around the corner. The break for lawmakers won’t be long. Lawmakers will take up next years budget in less than two weeks and the picture isn’t pretty.
State revenues are expected to fall by as much as another 4 billion next year. Governor Charlie Crist plans to veto some of the education spending cuts passed by lawmakers. Crist said the first thing on the agenda is an 11 million dollar cut to program that pays teacher for success in the classroom.