In revealing his budget to the state today, Gov. Rick Scott's remarks began and ended with references to two huge dollar amounts: $5 billion in overall spending cuts, and $2 billion in reduced taxes. But nine other references to specific dollar amounts reveal more about the tasks Scott proposes to balance the Florida budget.
Here are Scott's ideas, presented in the order in which the governor mentioned them during his speech today in Eustis:
• Reduce the business tax from 5.5% to 3%, and completely eliminate it by 2018, saving taxpayers more than $2.6 billion.
• Cut property taxes by $1.4 billion over two years.
• Spend $800 million over two years on economic development and incentives.
• Require government employees to make 5% contributions to their pensions, saving taxpayers $2.8 billion over two years.
• Review government purchases and renegotiate contracts and leases to save $600 million over two years.
• Consolidate government functions, saving $120 million.
• Eliminate some government programs to save $160 million.
• Constrain the growth of Medicare spending to save $4 billion over two years.
• Reform the juvenile offender system, as well as the prison system, to save $500 million.
“This is a lean budget,” Scott admitted during his speech. “But this is also a budget that will hold government accountable.”