Sunshine State Slowdown


TALLAHASSEE – The side effects of growth have increased demand for classroom space, prison beds, court services, jobless benefits, health care and other services for the poor — which is why state legislators are staring at a $2.6 billion budget shortfall when the 2010-11 fiscal year starts in July — the third consecutive year of budget holes created by a faltering economy.

And for the foreseeable future, economists predict tax receipts won’t catch up with Florida’s burgeoning demand for education, entitlement programs and public-safety services.

Florida’s Republican leadership in Tallahassee has settled on three options: change the tax structure and tap new revenue sources; make more service cuts and program changes; and take a longer-term approach of beefing up economic-development measures — including higher education — while scaling back regulations on businesses.

There are critics to every option.  Only time will tell how we balance our budget.

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