Crist holds town hall meeting
Published: Monday, January 26, 2009 at 9:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 26, 2009 at 9:14 p.m.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is hoping the federal stimulus package helps ease the pain of foreclosures and budget cuts in the Sunshine State.
U.S. Senate committees are scheduled to take up President Obama's massive economic stimulus package Tuesday and the full House is expected to vote on its version of the $825 billion plan Wednesday. Republicans want the recovery package tilted more toward tax cuts.
The stimulus package "could have a tremendous impact on economic development, job growth and a better economy sooner," Crist, a Republican, said Monday night to about 250 residents at a town hall meeting in Kissimmee. "It's something that is a bridge toward the economy actually turning up."
During the Great Depression, Crist said, President Franklin Roosevelt's stimulus programs helped get the U.S. economy back on track, an odd reference by a GOP governor to a president whose economic plans historically have been vilified by members of his party.
Holding his fourth town hall meeting since taking office in 2007, Crist answered questions about foreclosures, education funding and the prospects of commuter rail in central Florida. Also attending was Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp.
Crist said it would be smarter for banks to negotiate a reduced mortgage rate for homeowners headed for foreclosure proceedings rather than take possession of the property.
Maureen Carll, a representative from the Florida PTA, told the governor that funding for public education is at a critical stage. Special session budget cuts totaling $1.2 billion most heavily hit education, health care and social services and reduced the current year budget to $65 billion.
"We implore you. We do not want to see the burden fall on to any one particular group," Carll said. "No one should be made to suffer because one group has a concern that they feel is different from another group."
With tongue partly planted in cheek, the governor said residents of the Sunshine State should urge their friends in the chilly north to buy Florida real estate. Crist said that now is the best time in years to buy Florida real estate with real estate taxes and insurance declining.
With unemployment at 8.1 percent and the state among the foreclosure leaders in the nation, Crist acknowledged Florida has serious economic challenges.
"We'll get through this," he said.
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