Gov. Charlie Crist has sent his letter to House Speaker Ray Sansom and Senate President Jeff Atwater outlining his plans to close the $2.3b budget gap. The big picture items are nearly identical in type and amount to what we reported last week.
The list is below
According to the letter, the Legislature can balance the budget with a variety of cuts and budget transfers:
• $561.5 million by approving a 4 percent across-the-board agency budget cut that Crist ordered earlier this year without legislative sign off. The cuts take just $13 million from health services because Crist said he wants to spare ''the most vulnerable Floridians.'' K-12 education is cut the most: $370 million.
• $325.3 million by culling unspent money in 37 different special trust fund accounts established for anything from controlling invasive plants to helping disabled travelers to coordinating drunken-driving prevention schools.
• $135 million in earnings from the Seminoles gambling compact that the Legislature has yet to approve.
• $290.3 million by tapping the budget stabilization fund. This would leave just $424 million in this savings account of last resort.
• $600 million by tapping the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund. Depending on how the money is accounted for, this withdrawal would leave about $530 million to $765 million in the annuity, which funds programs for poor kids and seniors.
• $88.9 million by using unspent construction money, or by bonding construction that was to be built with cash.
• $314 million by bonding prison construction. As of Thursday morning, the state was holding 100,000 prisoners, underscoring the need for more prison beds.