State economists forecast billion dollar budget deficit in Florida

By Troy Kinsey, Capital Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, December 03, 2016

For years now, Florida's capitol has seen plenty of money -- the results of a booming economy. Now, state economists are forecasting a billion dollar budget deficit. And the new speaker of the state house says that deficit could get here sooner than expected. 

  • New state speaker warns that Florida will see a budget deficit
  • Gov. Scott optimistic, saying Florida's economy is growing
  • Property taxes could go up if there is a deficit

Republican Richared Corcoran is warning that between rising Medicaid costs, lower investment returns, and a fallout from the Zika crisis, Florida could be facing a budget deficit of up to a billion dollars in just a few month's time. 

"The budget, I think, is going to be difficult. I think once we see the Zika effect in our sales tax revenues, my hunch is that when we hit session in March that we're going to be pretty..at best, flatlined; and at worst, we could have a deficit," Corcoran said. 

The projection could hardly come at a worse time for Governor Scott, as he asks lawmakers for $85 million he can use to entice companies to move to Florida -- and a deep deficit could make that all but impossible. 

However, Scott feels the prediction of a budget crisis is premature -- announcing 85 million people visited Florida during the first 9 months of the year. 

"Tourism is continuing to grow, jobs are continuing to grow, our labor force is continuing to grow, so, no, this state is on a roll. There's no place like Florida," Scott said. 

However, it all has the makings of an intraparty showdown between the governor and speaker. 

If there is a deficit, lawmakers might have to make some difficult choices, including allowing property taxes to go up. 

The 2017 legislative session begins in March.