State Budgets: Florida Borrowing and Hitting Smokers and Gamblers After Mortgage Stamp Taxes Fall

January 1, 2009

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) recently announced his plan to close a $2.3 billion shortfall in the current $66.3 billion budget (“the People’s Budget“), including borrowing $600 million from tobacco settlement money, drawing down reserves and savings from a 4 percent spending cut, claiming $135 million in returning for allowing expanded Seminole gambling, and shifting prison construction from current-year spending to borrowed bond funding. The plan has no tax or fee increases (aside from a proposed dishonest cigarette “fee” increase that’s actually a tax increase) but the 2009-10 budget is expected to have a $5.8 billion budget gap. One cause of the volatility in revenue is a heavy reliance on document stamp taxes (on mortgages).

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