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.