Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Scanning Florida’s Legislative and Budget News

You know it can’t be a good sign of things to come when you find the statement below as postonpolitics.com’s Quote of the Day, while scanning various newspapers for Florida legislative and budget news. 

“We threw that away.”

–Senate Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Chairman Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, on Gov. Charlie Crist’s budget recommendations.

The last thing Floridians need during these tough economic times is a fight between the Legislature and the Governor.

Next up, Gov. Crist denies, then announces 4th quarter budget cuts [From the Miami Herald’s Naked Politics]:

Gov. Charlie Crist’s budget office just announced that he will holdback 15 percent of the money remaining for each agency for the remaining fiscal year, undoubtedly requiring immediate cuts to education, courts, law enforcement and health care services.

The announcement comes more than two hours after the governor was asked by the Herald/Times [and]denied knowing about the announcement. Around noon, reporters asked Crist if his office was planning to order a 15 percent holdback on agencies, including school districts. “Not that  I’ve been briefed on yet,” Crist told reporters.  He had just ended a 40-minute roundtable with film and entertainment industry officials.

From the governor’s press release: “In an abundance of caution, 15 percent  of the total appropriation for each agency has not yet been released. As we monitor the economic outlook in the coming months, factoring in monthly revenue and federal stimulus implications, funds will be released accordingly. Exceptions to this action are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis through the normal amendatory process.”

Here’s the letter to agency heads from Crist budget director Jerry McDanielDownload 2009.3.19 2008-09 Fourth Quarter Releases.

In other budget news, the Tallahassee Democrat reports that during budget hearings held on the 2009-2010 proposed budget, state agencies put on a “parade of horrors” for our legislators.  Here are their proposals to save money:

 * Kick out 14,236 children from school-readiness programs in the state’s Office of Early Learning, a program that pays for child care for low-income families so parents can work.

* Fire 420 people at the Department of Transportation

* Turn off lights on highways to save money on electricity.

* 70 Florida Highway Patrol troopers lost, part of 360 layoffs at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

* Replace license plates every 10 years instead of the current six-year cycle and eliminate the stickers that now mark annual renewal.

* Eliminate the medical review section within the Bureau of Driver Improvement, the state entity that reviews drivers who may be unsafe because of medical conditions. The bureau reviewed more than 100,000 cases in 2007 and has revoked the driving privileges of more than 32,000 who proved to be unsafe.

And in just about the only good news I could find about the Legislature:  the Florida Supreme Court upheld the lobbyist gift ban.  Of course 1 of the 2 lobbyists that brought the suit to overturn the gift ban (Ron Book) immediately said the lobbyists mght consider asking for a rehearing since they didn’t really like the Florida Supreme Court’s answer. 

Kind of reminded me of young children who repeatedly ask their parents the same question over and over and over again hoping their parents will tire of hearing them and give in.  I’m thinking that strategy doesn’t work with the Florida Supreme Court, either.


Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , ,

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