Loan from budget stabilization fund approved
The Legislative Budget Commission Wednesday approved Gov. Charlie Crist's request to borrow $672.4-million from the budget stabilization fund to plug nearly half of the $1.5-billion of red ink in the budget.
It's the latest in a series of extraordinary steps to keep state government in the black, and it follows Crist's order of a 4 percent holdback of every agency's budget and cuts of more than $5-billion in spending from last year. Crist said future steps could include reduction or elimination of state services and programs, spending cash reserves in trust funds and "other evolving options."
His aides provided lawmakers with a two-page "plan of action" to cope with the continued economic pressures on the budget. Crist has asked to defer plans to raid a health care fund, the Lawton Chiles Endowment, to cover the remaining half of the imbalance in the budget. (read more in jump)
Steve Bousquet, Times capital bureau chief
The Republican-majority LBC, chaired by Sen. Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah, noted that cash transfers from the stabilization fund must be repaid in full within five years. If the economy doesn't bounce back, those repayment checks are going to be hard to come by.
The panel also shifted $48.2-million from an unclaimed property fund, which has a fat surplus, to the state education fund to compensate for a dropoff in Florida Lottery ticket sales.