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Scott preparing a 'very tough budget'

Gov. Rick Scott will make his annual budget recommendations to the Legislature next Wednesday and he told Floridians Friday he's anticipating a "very tough" budget. Scott noted that the state is facing nearly a $2 billion shortfall -- the gap between the projected tax revenue available and projected cost of meeting the state's critical needs. The challenge, he said, is that Medicaid rolls continue to grow faster than state revenues, and public school enrollment is projected to increase by 30,000 more students next fall.

The uptick in K-12 enrollment is projected to carry a price tag of $191 million, Scott said. Local property taxes are projected to show a 3 percent decline, which he said equates to a loss of about $200 million, he said. Add in the loss of about $550-million in federal education stimulus money, Scott said, and he starts out $1.2 billion short.

"This is going to be a tough year to try to figure out how to do the right thing," Scott said. "Because we have to do the right thing for education, because it's the future of our state. If our kids can't get a great education, then we won't have the progress we've already had this year." 

He chided the Obama administration for not acting on the state's request to create a Medicaid block grant program, which he claimed would be most cost-effective. "We can figure out how to spend the money better and take care of Floridians," he said. "And in the meantime, we have a Medicaid plan up there (in Washington) that they still haven't approved. That's disappointing."  

Scott's message Friday was a lot different than it was a year ago, when he proposed a 10 percent reduction in public education funding, a proposal that led to a backlash from educators and some legislators. This time, the first-term Republican governor says he's searching for inventive ways to maintain the current level of school funding.

Another shift for Scott is more stylistic but still worth noting. Last February, he unveiled his first set of budget proposals before a crowd of about 800 people at a strongly Tea Party-flavored rally at First Baptist Church in Eustis, a small town north of Orlando. This time, Scott will utilize a more traditional approach, at a press conference in the state Capitol. But he said: "It's not to send a different message."

-- Steve Bousquet

Comments

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Martinshushu

Robert Kennedy, Jr. said that business controlled by government is called communism, and government controlled by business is called fascism. Ricky Scott is the kind of corporate guy who truly believes that Government should be run like a business. By that perverse reasoning we should only give defense or any public contracts to low bidders. Then the HumVees that breakdown in battle will cost only a few lives. Or the cheap guns that don't fire. Or any other service provided by government like fire trucks or police protection­. Justifiabl­e by the numbers, but premeditat­ed homicide anyway. So good old boy Ricky Scott sputters on and on like an old Yugo import. Recall the low budget cars manufactur­ed in what is now Serbia. The Yugo's were certainly the result of low bidder perversion­s. Florida you get what you pay for, and you really got a 99 cent bargain on this Ricky Scott guy, didn't you?

Robert M Sawyer

We/I can only hope that with everything that has gone in Florida since voting in Rick Scott and a large contngent of Republican/Tea Party Members that maybe our fellow Floridian Voters will learn to vote for a Party (Democrats)who for the most part care about the 99% Citizen Majority instead of listening to the Campaign Lies & Twist on Words that the Republicans gave us. I can only hop that there is a Florida still left after we get rid of "Pink Slip Rick", it will no doubt take probally at least the next threeAdministrations to correct all the Damage that has been done. Our Educational System and Children will probally be the worst effected after the Smoke Clears and I find it sickning in his comments here that Scott has the nerve to try an sound like he gives 2 Cents about it.

Sandy Sheridan

This guy (Rick Scott) is an embarassment to us all. Maybe if he hadn't sent all the Grants (5 million dollars worth) back that were given to the Department of Health last year he would have more money in this years budget. I am a State Dept of Health employee of 16 years and I am laid off. Will the last state worker in florida please turn off the lights before you leave?

lmmd

Rick Scott is only out to reward himself and his cronies. Every single move with the exception of the Port of Miami has been detrimental to Floridians. And he seems to think we're so stupid that we don't notice it! GET RID OF HIM!

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