Part of an occasional series on Florida’s looming budget dilemma in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.


Florida’s budget has a bad case of COVID-19. The question is: What are state leaders prepared to do about it?


There are no big answers, but there are a few easy calls. And that’s where state lawmakers should start.


First, the big picture: Florida is currently spending money like a drunken sailor. The state has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into unemployment claims already, with a massive backlog and the expense of ramping up processing for Florida’s woefully inadequate system. Requests for Medicaid are also climbing as more people lose their jobs — though Congress has agreed to pick up more of the tab for at least the next year.


Even though Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered a slow, steady re-opening of Florida’s economy, sales tax revenue has plummeted by as-yet-uncalculated amounts; Florida’s tourist-based economy could be one of the last to recover from a national recession.


Later this month, when they have better numbers, Florida lawmakers will be back to re-write the spending plan for next year. Last month’s evaluation by Moody Analytics suggests that Florida’s budget hole could end up between $8 billion to $10 billion. That’s a significant chunk, given that the 2020-21 budget came in at $93 billion.


Without a doubt, lawmakers face tough decisions. But they shouldn’t all be difficult. In a report issued in mid-April, Florida TaxWatch identified two avenues for revenue that could, in the short term, put hundreds of millions back in state coffers.


The first is the easiest: Gov. Ron DeSantis should move quickly to strike a new deal with Native American tribes that operate casinos in Florida, something that could put a quick boost of close to $650 million in state coffers through the 2021 budget year. It won’t be as easy as a finger snap — tribal leaders want the state to be more aggressive in enforcing a ban on some popular forms of games such as blackjack at card rooms and casinos at parimutuel sites across Florida. But it’s doable, and tribal leaders have said they’re ready to negotiate.


The second won’t be as much of a culture shift as it once might have been. Florida has a clear path, now, to put “reasonable” sales-tax collection requirements on online retailers who sell their goods to Floridians. Many retailers — including industry-dominating giant Amazon, and hundreds of vendors with physical presence in the state — already collect and remit this money, but TaxWatch estimates that Florida could benefit to the tune of hundreds of millions in additional revenue — money that’s owed already, but not collected.


During the coronavirus shutdown, many residents were forced to become more comfortable with shopping for necessities — even groceries and medicine — online. Now’s the time to make sure that Internet sales are fairly taxed; thanks to its current budget crunch, the state can’t afford to wait.


If the pessimists are right, these moves won’t get Florida all the way in the black, but they’ll do a lot — maybe $1 billion, maybe more. That’s a good start.


This editorial is a collaboration of the editorial boards of the USA TODAY Network-Florida.