ATLANTA - Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles on Friday proposed a $34.92 billion all-funds budget for fiscal 1994 that relies on $630.7 million in new taxes to help keep pace with soaring demands in funding for schools, jails, and public welfare programs.
The fiscal 1994 budget, which begins July 1, includes a $13.55 billion general fund component, 14.4% higher than the $11.84 spending level set for fiscal 1993.
As part of the proposed 1994 budget, Chiles has requested authorization for $3.74 billion in partially bond-funded fixed capital outlay.
This includes about $2.03 billion for Department of Transportation projects, $1.31 billion for education, $175 million for the Department of Natural Resources, and $52 million for community affairs.
"The budget continues our reforms to make Florida government work just as hard as the people it serves," the governor said at a press conference. "Our focus is on doing a better job, but the job has grown bigger because of growing needs in schools, welfare, Medicaid, and public safety."
The proposed "Smart Dollar budget" must cover funding for 70,760 additional public school students in fiscal 1994, 24,917 added enrollees at the state community colleges and universities, 281,821 more Medicaid clients, and 9,100 more prisoners, according to James McClelland, a spokesman for the governor.
McClelland said the new tax revenues would come from closing off loopholes in sales tax collections on professional services. Specifically, he said, the proposed budget would end exemptions for the 6% state sales taxes on services provided by lawyers, accountants, bookkeepers and tax preparers, architects, engineers, management consultants, and lobbyists.
The budget will use the $630.7 million to fund $431 million in increased education spending, $90 million in health and human services increases, $72 million in public safety, and $38 million in environmental, community, and economic development.
Chiles said the proposed 1994 budget will also rely on expected general fund revenue growth of about 8%, or $949.1 million, which is needed to match an equivalent amount of spending increases for continuation programs. He said the budget will also depend on $202.4 million in savings generated by eliminating programs the governor considers unnecessary. This would involve a workforce reduction of 1,000 jobs.
The savings will fund technology and productivity programs and provide state employees with a 3% pay raise for half a year.
Overall, according to McClelland, about $6.64 billion, or 49%, of the general fund budget will go to fund education; about $4.67 billion, or 34%, to health and human services; $1.61 billion, or 12%, to public safety; $400 million, or 3%, to general governmental services; and $230 million, or 2%, to environmental programs.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers blocked a proposal by the governor calling for $1.35 billion in new taxes that had envisioned broadening the state sales tax and raising corporate taxes in exchange for a reduction in property tax rates. When a budget was finally approved, lawmakers had approved only $372 million in new taxes and $50 million in fees.
The budget proposal came after Chiles on Thursday signed a bill approved in a special session the week before that permits the sale of $500 million of tax-exempt revenue bonds to pay off claims on insurers forced into liquidation by Hurricane Andrew.
Chiles also signed a bill on Tuesday creating a trust fund to be used for hurricane-related relief and expenses. The fund, to be administered by the governor, will commit about $500 million in extra sales tax revenues that state finance officials expect to be generated as storm victims spend their insurance reimbursements.