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CRIST STILL WANTS TO AVOID TAX HIKE

It's unlikely taxes will be increased, as Democratic leaders have suggested, to help Florida overcome a potential $1-billion revenue shortfall if Gov. Charlie Crist gets his way.

"I'm not a fan of raising taxes," Crist said Wednesday.

So how about increasing user fees?

"I'm not a fee fan," Crist added. "It's not something I'm really excited about."

The Republican governor recently vetoed bills that would have increased college and university tuition and fines for noncriminal violations, the latter to pay for police training programs.

Although Crist stopped short of absolutely excluding revenue increases, he said spending cuts are a better solution to Florida's budget dilemma.

Leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature announced plans Tuesday for a special session starting Sept. 18 to revise the $71.5-billion annual budget that went into effect July 1.

State revenue, mostly sales taxes, has been coming in lower than estimated.

State economists next month will revise their annual revenue estimate. Preliminary figures indicate it may drop by $800-million to $1.2-billion.

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