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Florida Budget Must Be Slashed, Legislators Told

September 29, 1987|Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Facing a constitutional requirement that the state's budget must be balanced, Florida Gov. Bob Martinez asked legislators in a special session Monday to slash $400 million from planned spending and to repeal a controversial tax on services.

The governor received an opinion from Atty. Gen. Bob Butterworth that the state must maintain a balanced budget as lawmakers seek a solution to the tax dispute.

"The obligation to balance the budget falls upon both the Legislature and governor," Butterworth said. "A bill having the effect of creating an unbalanced budget during the fiscal period would . . . violate the Constitution . . . . "

The legislators returned Monday to resume a special session that began last week but was recessed in chaos. Many members of the Democratic-controlled Legislature went home early after two days of partisan bickering.

The Democrats have indicated they are more interested in revising the services tax than in repealing it.

The law, which extends the state's 5% sales tax to most services, including advertising and professional fees, was enacted last spring to help pay for schools, roads and clean water during a period of rapid growth. It was to raise $740 million in its first year and $1.2 billion in the second.

The tax has been so unpopular that Martinez, a Republican, now wants it repealed Jan. 1. In order to balance the budget, the governor on Monday proposed taking $150 million from the state's working capital fund, another $78 million from the capital projects fund and $171 million from agency budgets.

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