Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson had no patience Thursday for the decision of the Florida legislature to strip the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's police training trust fund of $2.7 million to fill its budget hole.
The agency asked the Cabinet to approve a $50 increase in the examination fee given to law enforcement candidates to make up at least $450,000 of the lost money. The fee increase must go through one final hurdle -- a rulemaking process to formalize it.
"There's no trust in the trust funds,'' Bronson said, adding that he hopes to have a word about it with House and Senate leaders. "I realize the problems the legislature is having, trying to make things work and having to move money...but it's like saying 'let's throw our money down a rat hole and maybe this time it won't go to the bottom.''
Attorney General Bill McCollum agreed. "It's a very, very bad scene when we go out and raid these trust funds,'' he said. He also noted that the Cabinet can't be called out for enacting a new fee since the legislature authorized it.
FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said he had no choice but to ask for the increase, although he conceded: "It's going to be tough to ask them for another $50 to take a test'' after they've already paid between $1,500 to $3,500 for training.
Gov. Charlie Crist was the lone vote against the fee hike. "On behalf of the 9000 people who have to pay 50 bucks more,” he said.