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Crist may veto part of budget package

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday he may veto some items from a budget deficit-elimination package that lawmakers are set to vote on today.

The legislation is a compromise worked out between the House and Senate to plug at least a $2.3-billion hole in the budget, but it includes a cushion up to $2.8-billion in case the state's revenue shortfall gets bigger before the budget year ends June 30.

"There are line-item opportunities that you can review, and I've been reviewing them," Crist said.

One of the potential veto targets is a provision that would cut bonuses to teachers who earn national board certification by $11-million. It would cut the bonuses from 10 percent to 8 percent of average teacher pay.

"That is a concern I have," Crist said. "Some of these teachers believed I think they were going to have an opportunity to get those bonuses, and I'm sympathetic to that."

Revenue collections for December already have fallen $100-million short of the $2.3-billion deficit figure state economists forecast in November, but Crist said the legislation still should keep the state in the black by at least $300-million.

"So one could make the argument that you could veto up to that amount," Crist said. He added, though, that he didn't expect any vetoes would go too far.

Crist and Florida Cabinet members also were dismayed that two deals they've already approved will be canceled as part of a provision that will suspend the state's Florida Forever environmental lands program.

"The fact they took those off the table — already committed projects — is not the best way for us to do business," said Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Crist may veto part of budget package 01/13/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 10:42pm]
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