A hostile House views Crist's budget
For more than four hours, Gov. Charlie Crist's budget chief, Jerry McDaniel, fielded questions from a skeptical House Policy & Budget Council Tuesday. It was the first sign that Crist's $70-billion spending plan will receive a very cold shoulder in the Legislature.
The chief objections, lodged by Republicans and Democrats alike, were a proposal by Crist to collect $338-million more in school property taxes next year; more than $400-million in revenue increases based on more slot machines and state lottery games; and $1.1-billion in transfers from dedicated money sources known as trust funds. The trust fund transfers would include $400-million in principal from the Lawton Chiles health care endowment, funded with tobacco settlement money, which would breach a constitutional limit of 3-percent of one-time or non-recurring money for recurring programs.
"Not good public policy," said the House budget chief, Rep. Ray Sansom, R-Destin. He also essentially declared dead one of Crist's new revenue ideas, $34-million from overweight truck fines that have not been increased since 1953. "I don't think that's how we get the economy going again in Florida," Sansom said.
The panel's vice-chairman, Democratic Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Wilton Manors, described Crist's budget as a "fallacy" built on too-optimistic revenue projections. "The governor's budget has created skeptics of us all," Seiler said. On the issue of spending, it's starting to look like it could be a long spring for Florida's governor.