Facing a third year of declining revenues, some lawmakers say it will be difficult for agencies and school districts to whittle budgets further without reducing the salary payload.
“Five percent, even a 10 percent cut, yeah, you’re trimming, cutting travel budgets, and consolidating purchases. When you start hitting 15 to 20 percent (cuts), it’s just inevitable that jobs will be affected,” said Sen. Doug Davis, R-Hernando.
Davis, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the bottom line is “you can’t drop that much and not see a reduction in employees.”
He was referring to budget cuts made during the previous and current fiscal year, and those expected in fiscal 2011. Salaries account for the vast majority of state agency and school district budgets, he said.
That leaves lawmakers facing the vexing question of how to shave at least $300 million from the state budget while minimizing the damage to the delivery of state services, to schools, to public safety, and to the already taxed unemployment fund.