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Budget patching begins today

Florida's latest budget shortfall will be only partly resolved when Gov. Lawton Chiles and the Cabinet meet today, an aide said Tuesday. The governor and Cabinet were scheduled to approve agency recommendations canceling $27-million in spending planned for the last few weeks of the fiscal year.

But the latest tax shortfall is estimated to reach $150-million. The governor and Cabinet will have to vote next week on transferring almost $70-million in interest from Florida's trust funds into general operations.

Lawmakers endorsed that transaction Thursday and the exact figures for the transfers are not yet ready, said Rand Snell, Chiles' chief aide.

The $53-million remainder of the shortfall will be covered by shifting money from a construction fund, the state's rainy day account and a land reclamation trust fund.

In the agency cuts, education will take the biggest hit, almost $14.6-million. Social services will lose about $7.4-million and prisons $2.9-million.

In the past eight months, the state has canceled some $500-million in planned spending in an effort to balance its $27-billion budget for the fiscal year that ends this month.

The governor and Cabinet also are expected to give conditional go-ahead Wednesday for a magnetically levitated train for Orlando, which will not cost anything in state money.

Maglev Transit proposes to run the train between the airport and Orlando's International Drive tourist strip, a distance of 13.5 miles.

A favorable state ruling would allow the Orlando company to immediately begin negotiating with the airport and to break ground on the $600-million project next fall.

Services to an estimated 3-million rides a year would begin by fall 1995. The company contends that would give Orlando the first commercial maglev project in the world.

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