THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA: Fasano tells agencies to prepare for more cuts

Mar 13, 2009

Sen. Mike Fasano, who chairs the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Committee, told state agencies who already lost 4 percent of their budget during January’s special session that more cuts may be coming.

Prior to convening in January to plug a $2.3 billion hole in the current fiscal year’s budget, lawmakers told state agencies to prepare for a 10 percent cut, which may have eased the pain of the 4 percent they lost and had been told not to spend anyway.

But with an eye toward Friday’s Revenue Estimating Conference, which is widely expected to bring more bad economic news, Fasano told state agencies again to draft budgets for the coming year reduced by 10 percent by next week.

“The expectations are that the estimates will reflect a larger reduction in revenue,” Fasano told agency representatives in attendance at Thursday’s meeting of the committee. “We’re talking about the present fiscal year and next fiscal year.”

But Fasano said that agencies were probably not surprised to receive the directive, since the writing has been on the wall about the estimating conference’s Friday meeting all week.

Senate budget chief JD Alexander estimated Wednesday that even with the federal economic stimulus, the state deficit could be $2 billion for the next fiscal year. He amended his estimate Thursday, saying it could be $3 billion.

“I think these agencies are probably expecting it,” Fasano said. “If not, hold on to your seats.”