« JNC surprise: Second Hispanic in running for Supreme Court | Main | Sansom draws ethics complaint »

Crist's budget plan a risk for lawmakers

To close a $2.3 billion budget hole, Gov. Charlie Crist asked lawmakers Tuesday to gamble a bit: Raid savings accounts and trust funds, avoid permanent spending cuts for now and hope for better times to come.

Lawmakers reacted coolly to Crist's proposal heading into the Legislature's Jan. 5 special session to balance the $66.3 billion budget.

For many legislators, Crist's proposal to spend savings and borrow money is risky because it could create a bigger hole for the next budget year. It already has a projected deficit of at least $4 billion. Crist emphasized the positive aspects of his proposal Tuesday, and held out hope for a federal stimulus package to help the state.

Miami Democratic Sen. Dan Gelber said the cuts Crist wants lawmakers to approve have started to cause visible harm to classrooms. Echoing Republicans who would only talk off record, Gelber said the governor's plan was troubling.

''It's not just a gamble. It's a faith-based fix,'' Gelber said. ``But it's not even a fix. It's denial. We're not filling holes. We're creating holes.''

more here


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

James Dunn

Budget Solution: Sell Every Vote

If Florida seriously wants to close the current $2.3 billion budget loophole, the only answer is to sell every vote in the legislature. Before you laugh off this idea, let's consider its merits.

An eBay-type system for the buying and selling for seats and votes in the Florida Legislature would promote a culture of openness and transparency.

Second, with Florida leading the nation in public corruption cases, we could eliminate secretive quid pro quo lobbying by legally doing this out in the open.

Third, as seen in the historic election of president-elect Barack Obama, the trend of individual contributions is on the rise. Let's let voters bid on every seat in the legislature and every vote to promote direct democracy.

Finally, with competition and the free market becoming ideas of the past due to the level of government intervention to recover the economy, privatizing our state legislature is one way to reverse this trend.

Let's take a look at the numbers. Florida currently has a $2.3 billion dollar budget hole. We have 40 state senate seats. By selling each senate seat for $28,750,000, we'll raise almost $1.2 billion. Let's go ahead a sell those 120 state house seats at $9,600,000 each to raise the rest of funds needed to close the budget gap. State budget crisis resolved.

Since next year's budget looks even more bleak and Florida needs to find new sources of revenue, let's sell the opportunity to file bills. In 2008, 2,503 bills were filed in the Florida Legislature. Let's start the bidding at $10,000 each. Add another $25 million in new recurring revenue for the state coffers right there.

Since only 313 bills passed both chambers of the legislature, there should be a premium set on them. Let's say $50,000 to get a bill passed. There's another near $16 million in recurring funds.

It appears the governor vetoed about 10 bills. A veto is so rare, we'll need to put a $100,000 price tag on those. Another $1 million for our state.

To recap, we've found a minimum of $2.3 billion annually by selling of all legislative seats. We created a minimum of $42 million annually by selling the bill filing, passage and veto processes.

Another benefit of this proposal is its cost savings. It's been estimated to cost about $50,000 per day for a special session. Let's assume that number holds true for the 60 day regular session. Since an in-person session wouldn't be required under the proposal, we'd save another $3 million annually by shifting to the electronic bidding process to move legislation.

Taxpayers would save additional millions by not needing elections and special elections for legislators and by cutting all legislative staff.

Forget about the new tax ideas on cigarettes, gas, gambling and local school taxes. We've got a plan here that is sustainable and the best way to shine a light on our legislative process for the people.

The comments to this entry are closed.