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Pennies count: Florida alters license plates to save $50,000

TALLAHASSEE — How desperate is Florida for money?

So desperate, it's changing the design on the official state license plate to save $50,000 each year.

The light brown stem on the oranges that grace Florida's aluminum license tags will now be green, like the leaves on either side. Reducing the number of colors from four to three will shrink production costs.

''We're looking for efficiencies,'' said Electra Bustle, executive director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. ``The brown stem is going to be green.''

Florida buys more than 4 million standard tags a year from PRIDE Enterprises, the St. Petersburg-based firm that runs job-training programs for inmates, who make the tags at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford. Tag sales are an important source of revenue for the motor vehicle agency.

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