Gov. Counts on Stimulus Money

TAMPA -

By law, the State of Florida cannot run a deficit, but the federal government has no such restrictions. Governor Charlie Crist is counting on the promised federal stimulus package to help bail out Florida.

Lawmakers started meeting this week to close a $2.3 billion hole in the state's current budget.

Crist is recommending budget cuts and borrowing money set aside for programs like children's health care as a fix. The governor made it clear last week that he does not favor finding new revenue sources like a $1 cigarette tax.

'I'm not warm and fuzzy about raising any kind of tax or fee. And, I think that we've come up with a plan that will balance our budget without having to do so,' Crist said. 'Another important point I think to make is that we have a new administration going in in Washington. And, President-elect Obama has talked repeatedly about a stimulus package and many of those monies will benefit Florida.'

There's only six months left in the current budget year. Lawmakers will have to face another shortfall when they tackle next year's budget in March. It's expected to be short an additional $4 billion.

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