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How bad is Florida's budget shortfall?

Today is the day that legislators will find out how bad Florida's budget shortfall will be. The general revenue estimating conference started this morning and the first piece of bad news was that the state was $411 million under its estimates for tax collections in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

July was another bad month: Collections were about another $45 million down, although the figures aren't final.

The final numbers won't be available until later today, but the prediction is that tax collections will be down by as much as $1.2 billion for the 2006-07 budget year and the 2007-08 budget year. State economist Frank Williams said at today's conference the national and state economic outlook reveals "additional weaknesses" in the coming year and the overall growth in the economy will probably be between 2 and 3 percent overall.

State lawmakers have already called a special session in September to balance the state budget and will probably wind up cutting as much as $1 billion in state spending.

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