rick_scott_13.jpgTALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ State economists are predicting that Florida's tax collections will fall short by $1.3 billion to $1.7 billion over the next two years. Economists began meeting Tuesday to draw up a new forecast on state tax collections amid signs that Florida's economy has been stalling over the last few months.


Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders will rely on these forecasts to determine whether more cuts will be needed in 2012 to schools, health care and other state programs.

Scott is already making it clear he still plans to push for more tax cuts despite the drop in tax collections. He will begin rolling out his legislative agenda over the next few weeks.

Scott appeared on a Tallahassee radio station Tuesday morning and said he would like to enact further cuts to the state's corporate income tax as well as look at whether there are fees now paid by businesses that can be scaled back. Scott has pledged to cut taxes and regulations in order to grow the state's economy and create 700,000 jobs over seven years.

“We need to look at all our fees, can we get rid of a fee?'' Scott said on radio station WFLA.

Just a few weeks ago, lawmakers were told there was a small chance of a budget surplus for 2012. But that has been wiped away as tax collections have dropped below what economists were predicting just a few months ago.

Florida relies primarily on the state's 6 percent sales tax to balance its budget.

The new estimates suggest that economists still anticipate a small amount of growth in tax collections this year and next year, but not as much as they predicted in the spring.

But still the drop in expected collections means Scott and lawmakers will be confronted with a budget gap since other costs, including Medicaid, continue to rise during a down economy.

Property values also continue to decline meaning there are less local property taxes available for schools. Legislators would have to decide whether or not to replace the local money with state dollars.

Republican leaders have insisted they will not raise taxes in order to fill the potential shortfall.

The big political question is whether the GOP-controlled Legislature is willing to cut the budget deeper in order to offset the costs of Scott's tax cuts.