Florida’s prison system is shedding nearly 400 probation officers, prison teachers and chaplains, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The Department of Community Affairs, which polices growth, is laying off planners, shuttering its office in the Florida Keys and predicting it will take longer for local governments to get needed approvals of redevelopment plans. Hundreds of other government workers — from greyhound-track judges to college professors — are headed to the unemployment line. These are just some of the consequences of the bare-bones $66 billion state budget that took effect July 1. And almost everyone thinks things will get worse before they get better.
“I’ve never seen budget cuts this deep, or this mean,” said John Askew, president of Sunrise ARC, which provides services to 250 developmentally disabled clients, mostly in Lake County. A cut of $400,000 from his $4.1 million budget, he said, already has forced the closure of one of the organization’s six group homes and an adult training center. Even though the new budget is $6 billion below the one that Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law in 2007, revenue continues to erode. State tax collections fell a combined $263.9 million below anticipated levels in March, April and May. June figures are expected to be about $100 million short as the state sinks into recession, economists said.