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Monday, April 22, 2024

Florida Legislature concerned with state's finances

As the Florida Legislature opened its 2008 session Tuesday, state finances were a major concern in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Republican Speaker of the House Marco Rubio said he expects to find out next week that incoming tax revenue will be $4 billion less than expected.

Rep. Larry Cretul, a Republican representing part of Alachua County including the UF campus, said the reduced budget would have a severe effect on the session.

"Today is the opening day of a session in a year that will probably go down as one of the most difficult years financially in the state's history," Cretul said Tuesday.

According to a letter from Rubio sent to representatives Feb. 29, priorities for this session include making homeowner's insurance and health care more affordable, exploring alternative fuel sources, making Florida more attractive to investors and expanding the property tax amendment that passed in January.

But Democrats have said tax breaks are cutting into the state's social services and budget.

"It's not fat that they're cutting," said Senate minority leader Steven Geller, a Democrat. "We're now breaking the bones and trying to eat the marrow."

In opening speeches, both Rubio and Republican Senate President Ken Pruitt said government spending needs to be limited. Pruitt said this will be a year to reject many new initiatives. "It's a lot easier to lead when there's a lot of money," Pruitt said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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