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FL Cities Struggle with State Funding Cuts

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July 5, 2011

ORLANDO, Fla. - The massive budget cuts passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature, and signed into law by Tea Party-backed Gov. Rick Scott, are coming home to roost in Florida's municipalities. Municipal leaders say their cities are being hit hard, with cuts in social services, public jobs, and education funds.

In the shadow of Disney World, 500 homeless kids crowd into 67 motel rooms, their parents victims of the depressed job market and home foreclosures. And this week, their plight gets even bleaker, as state cuts to social services and education go into effect.

Mayor Buddy Dyer says Orlando is feeling the pinch.

"That's in terms of our citizens and how they are affected, in terms of a lot of those social programs that took substantial hits. We're going to see the effects of the cuts in education."

Even in the heart of Tea Party territory, Panama City faces a 10 percent cut in school spending, amounting to $17 million. Throughout the state, programs that serve children, the disabled, and seniors are feeling the across-the-board budget axe.

In the state capital, Tallahassee, Mayor John Marks says the cuts in state spending had an immediate effect. Some 400 of his constituents, all of whom are state workers, got their pink slips July 1.

"Well, obviously, it's going to hurt; I mean, we're going to lose about 400 jobs to state government. And I guess it's our responsibility at the local level - and my responsibility, and my commission's responsibility - to see if we can do something to fill those lost jobs in our city."

The Scott administration has laid off 4500 public employees statewide. Those layoffs, combined with cuts in programs that serve 7000 premature babies, at-risk pregnant women,and the homeless, as well as massive cuts in education, Florida's government services face an uncertain future.

More information is at the Florida Coalition for the Homeless website:

Les Coleman, Public News Service - FL