House Democrats offered a prebuttal to today's budget debate, arguing the House's Republican leaders favor "corporate bigwigs" and special interests over middle- and low-income Floridians in their $65 billion spending plan.
"The budget advocated by the ruling majority further takes us down what we believe is a disastrous path," said House Democrat Leader Dan Gelber, of Miami Beach.
Gelber said the House should close sales tax exemptions to avoid cuts to areas like education and health care. He cited an exemption for newspaper and magazine inserts that costs the state more than $40 million in lost revenues.
The House budget also will mean 6,000 layoffs for Florida government workers at the time the state is in a "troubling and deep recession," Gelber said.
"This will worsen our state's recession and have widespread impacts," he said.
Gelber said Republicans will argue today that they're just doing the same belt-tightening as struggling Florida families. But that's no reason to cut hospice and community health clinics, the Democrats said.
"Sound bites should not be confused with sound economic principles," argued Gelber.
Rep. Franklin Sands, D-Weston, argued that cutting thousands of government jobs is a bad decision with Florida a leading state in home foreclosures.
"During times of economic crisis, we should not be putting thousands out of work," Sands said. "House Republicans, though, believe differently."
While hammering away at House Republicans, the Democrats were careful to single out another GOPer for praise: Gov. Charlie Crist.
"I actually think the governor has been pretty sensible about our challenges. I've not seen from him this fidelity to orthodoxy at the expense of reality," said Gelber, noting the governor wants to dip into budget reserves to offset some cuts.