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Crist slim on stim details

After his warm embrace of President Barack Obama and the Democrats' bailout/stimulus plan, Gov. Charlie Crist is like virtually everyone when it comes to details about the package: He has few specifics.

Does Florida fall short of the "maintenance of effort" requirement to get federal school money? Crist isn't sure. Neither is Commissioner of Education Eric Smith. How much state spending is needed to draw down the federal stimulus cash. Crist said he didn't have "specifics."

Crist along with Florida's two Senators have asked for a federal waiver, should one be needed, to ensure Florida gets the $3.6 billion in school money. But does Crist's renewed backing of property tax-cutting plans, which could take money from schools, make it more difficult to receive federal school money?

“I don’t think it will," Crist said. "I think that there is such a level of concern about children in school by the current admin that we’re working with, by the new secretary of education in Washington. That I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”

Two weeks ago, Crist said the maintenance of effort issue wasn't a problem because U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings fixed it in the House. He didn't.

The newest nugget: Florida apparently could receive as much as $12.2b over three fiscal years under the plan. That's up from $11.4b on Thursday and the $11.3b number Crist's Washington office estimated Friday.

That information came from a spreadsheet passed out to Crist and his agency chiefs from Crist's budget office. When Crist was asked how much of the current-year deficit ($500m?) could be closed by the stimulus money, Crist said "A lot." He then walked off.