FL Gov. Crist Announces Budget

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Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday outlined his proposed $66.5 billion budget, which includes $4.7 billion in federal stimulus dollars.

His recommendations include investments in education, workforce development and career training, transportation and energy conservation.

The governor said his proposed 2009-10 budget will create or retain 314,590 jobs.

Florida is slated to receive $12.2 billion of the $787 billion included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act over three years.

Among Crist’s proposals:

  • $31.2 billion in funding for all phases of education, including almost $1.8 billion of federal stimulus funds.
  • $8.9 billion for economic development projects that create or retain 314,590 jobs. These jobs are in addition to the 206,000 Florida jobs expected to be created by the $12.2 billion pumped into Florida’s economy by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 over three state fiscal years.
  • $5.1 billion to build and maintain the roads, bridges and public transportation facilities, which Crist said would create or retain an estimated 142,800 jobs throughout the state. An additional $1.4 billion provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will go toward shovel-ready projects that can be initiated within 180 days, creating or retaining an additional 24,200 jobs.
  • $157.1 million for the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, which he said will create or retain 43,291 jobs.
  • $4.9 billion to maintain support for Florida’s increasing prison population and continue programs to reduce recidivism, prevent juvenile crime and keep violent criminals off the streets.
  • An increase of $45 million for cash assistance program and food stamps, which provides temporary assistance to families and their children, to ensure funds are available for families and children critically impacted during these challenging times.
  • $294 million for the Medicaid for the Aged and Disabled Program to restore 12 months of Medicaid health care coverage for 13,000 elderly and disabled individuals.
  • $470 million for the Medically Needy Program to restore 12 months of Medicaid health care coverage for 21,000 individuals who have extremely high medical bills in relation to their annual income.
  • $52 million for increased enrollment in the KidCare program to support an additional 46,000 children.

Crist also called on the Legislature, once more, to quickly approve the 25-year compact he signed between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which he said would provide billions of dollars to Florida’s schools throughout the duration of the agreement.

The agreement, signed in November 2007, would allow the tribe to install Las Vegas-style slot machines and card games in their casinos in exchange for $375 million over the first three years of the agreement, and at least $100 million a year after that.

However, in July, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Crist did not have the authority to sign the pact.

The Florida Legislature will consider his recommendations when their session begins in March.

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