It's not going to be very pretty when the Florida Legislature convenes next month in the state capitol. Legislators are looking at a budget shortfall that could exceed $3.5 billion.
By now everyone in the state should know the culprit: the burst of the housing bubbled combined with a bad national economy has badly crimped sales tax collections here.
The result is a bleak budget outlook that will feature painful program cuts. Expect lawmakers to yank at least $600 million out of the current state budget that ends on Sept. 30, and the future outlook isn't exactly rosy. the projected revenue shortfall could even be higher when the Revenue Estimating conference convenes next month and later in the summer.
There will be talk of trying to find more revenue by tweaking sales tax exemptions, imposing "sin" taxes or bringing back the intangibles tax. But, if this week's board meeting between the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board and Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio and House Majority Leader Adam Hasner is any indication, that's all it is -- talk.