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Merry X-mas from FL: State gives up collecting $124m in taxes, fees, fines

Think about this AP story next time the Legislature says it can't fund, say, a $30 million program or business incentive:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- For the third year in a row, Florida is giving up on collecting more than $100 million in taxes, fees and fines owed the state.

But the amount of money the state is walking away from continues to grow. Data released this past month shows that the state forgave $124.2 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Florida in 2011 wrote off $110.5 million as uncollectable, while the number was more than $109 million the year before.

The overall amount of money that Florida is losing is small compared with the size of the state's annual $70 billion budget. But the failure to collect the money comes amid year after year of state budget cuts.

State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart and the new Senate budget chief, said even though the amount is small he still wants the Legislature to re-examine whether the state is doing enough to collect money it is owed.

"We want to be circumspect and prudent with every dollar we have available to us in the state budget," Negron said. "We'll take a fresh look at that number and see if there is any possibility of reducing that amount."

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