Florida's First Budget Surplus in Five Years

Consumers are spending. Sales tax receipts are up on clothing and on big ticket items like cars. More tourists are coming to Florida.

Corporate tax collections are up 28% year-to-date and houses are selling, which Florida Realtors say is good is news for every sector of the economy.

"Someone now has to go out and buy a refrigerator and a stove and maybe new carpet and a lawn mower because the apartment they lived in didn't have a lawn," said John Sebree with Florida Realtors Association.

But as lawmakers began crafting a budget this week, they are being urged not to count their chickens before they hatch.

Denise Grimsley is succinct. "Be cautiously optimistic".

But that didn’t stop a room full of lobbyists from showing up and making their pitch for part of the extra cash.

Senate minority leader Chris Smith thinks his colleagues shouldn’t be looking for new ways to spend. "There is a lot of places that we shouldn't have cut so much that could really use those dollars".

While having an extra half a billion dollars is no small thing let's put it in perspective It's like the legislature expecting to have a hundred dollars and now it got an extra seventy cents.

Budget chairman Joe Negron believes it’s too early to spend what may not be there if Washington falls off the cliff and tanks the economy. "I'm optimistic that we'll be able to do some things to increase funding for higher education for our k-12 schools".

First drafts of the new budget will be formulated in early February. That's when the fighting over whatever windfall might be there begins.

Realtors say for every house that sells, 60,000 dollars is generated in the economy. For every two houses that sell, one job is created.

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