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FL: Budget Repair

Putting bleak budget numbers before the Florida Legislature’s money managers, Gov. Charlie Crist coined a three-word term that Republicans and Democrats will debate hotly until the economy improves.

The Legislative Budget Commission last week signed off on Crist’s request to take $672.4 million out of the state’s rainy-day reserve right away. But another $795 million is needed to balance the books of a $1.4 billion revenue shortage.

Crist said the remainder will be scrounged together after the Nov. 4 election with “other evolving options” — three little words that mean vastly different things on opposite sides of the partisan divide.

It will involve some combination of “sweeping” trust funds set up for various purposes, writing an IOU for up to $1 billion to the Lawton Chiles Endowment for health care, and holding back a penny out of every operating dollar sent to state agencies every three months.

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