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Fiscal Cliff, State Pension Case Threaten 2013 Fla. Budget

The Florida Senate committee that will set next year’s budget met Wednesday morning for the first time. A couple of huge unknowns are leaving officials wondering how much money will be available for next year.

The so-called fiscal cliff, which Congress is negotiating in Washington, could cost the state billions in the worst-case scenario if not resolved by January first. Also, as committee chair Joe Negron noted, a state employee pension case pending before the state supreme court could leave the state with significantly less money.

“That would go to the high priority list of our spending," Negron said. "If the Supreme Court of state ruled that we had improperly taken money from tens of thousands of people, we’d need to return the money with interest.”

According to the state Office of Economic and Demographic Research, if the Supreme Court rules in state employees’ favor, the state would owe more than $1 billion. And it would lose an additional $800 million every year.