Florida has a $15.3 billion deficit for the next three years, according to state budget documents released Thursday by the Florida Legislature.
That’s up from a $14.8 billion deficit last year, which included $4.3 million in additional revenue for the state.
The legislature also reduced the number of workers who get paid at the state Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees the Florida Jobs Program, to 20 from 30.
“It is our intention to move forward with significant reductions in staffing to the state of Florida and a significant increase in our economic growth, both of which are necessary to address the growing fiscal challenges facing our state,” the legislature said in a statement.
The budget also reduced state and local spending by $1.5 billion, which includes $500 million in savings on higher education, including $250 million for $1 billion for the College of Business and $150 million for a $300 million program to create a high-tech manufacturing company.
The budget also included $6 million for an overhaul of the state’s public school system, with a $100 million increase in spending on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and $1 million for increased funding for schools.
The state also reduced its funding for the Florida Children’s Hospital by $4 million.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce praised the governor’s budget plan for its emphasis on cutting the state deficit.
“This is the right thing to do,” the Chamber said in the statement.
“Our nation’s wealthiest state is one of the most struggling states in the nation, and the governor has an opportunity to do the right things to keep our economy moving forward.
He should not be running for president as the country’s chief economic engine.
He has a job to do and that’s to keep Florida moving forward and to build a stronger economy.”
Florida is currently one of only seven states without a balanced budget, according the Congressional Budget Office.
Rick Scott has a 1 percent surplus in the state budget, which is not a surplus as defined by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Service.
The governor has said he plans to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.