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State budget concerns Bembry

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Florida legislator visits Cedar Key

By Kellie Parkin

State Representative Leonard Bembry, D-Greenville, visited Cedar Key last week and commented on the recently passed state budget.

“What concerns me with the whole budget is taking $3.5 billion of stimulus money to balance the budget,” Bembry said. “Taking one-time money to borrow your way out of debt doesn’t work.”

Bembry said he finds Florida’s finances worrisome.

“Our debt has doubled since 2002 – the amount of bonding has doubled,” Bembry said. “And our revenue has decreased by 25 percent.”

Not only did Bembry disagree with the use of the stimulus funds, he also dissented on the final vote of the legislative session.

“I did not support the budget,” he said. “It had some very basic problems.”

Transportation was one of the key issues for Bembry. Under the new budget, fees for licensing a vehicle and obtaining a driver's license will increase dramatically. “The budget refers to fees -- I call them taxes,” he said. “And we need to be very careful with our taxes.”

Bembry did find common ground with his fellow legislators regarding the education budget.

“Education is the most important thing we deal with in the Legislature,” he said. “I think we did a reasonable job. Certainly not as bad as it could have been.”

Besides Levy County, Bembry’s District 10 incorporates all or part of nine other counties, covering a total of 7,846 square miles, including 321 miles of coastline.

Bembry recently opened a satellite office in Chiefland. The office is staffed Monday through Friday and can be reached by calling (352) 493-6848.