Published: Sep 15, 2010 3:54 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 15, 2010 12:54 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A slowly emerging economic recovery, spending cuts and more federal stimulus dollars have helped cut a potential shortfall in next year's Florida budget by more than half to $2.5 billion, a state economist said Tuesday.

Gaps of up to $2.8 billion and $1.9 billion are forecast for the following two budget years. Lawmakers must figure out ways to eliminate the gaps because the Florida Constitution requires a balanced budget.

Legislative economist Amy Baker said nearly $800 million in spending cut from the budget for the current fiscal year, which began July 1, were a big factor in reducing next year's gap. The economic recovery, although uneven, also helped.