The Florida Lottery wants to offer cash bonuses to its sales staff. The Department of Environmental Protection needs to replace trucks that are unsafe to drive. The Department of Corrections wants new software to track down emails and respond faster to "prepare for lawsuits and investigations."
These are among hundreds of requests by state agencies to Gov. Rick Scott. The agencies faced an earlier-than-usual deadline of Tuesday to submit their annual LBRs or legislative budget requests, which Scott will consider as he prepares his budget recommendations to the Legislature in advance of the next regular session in January 2016.
Scott faces a fiscal balancing act as he weighs his agencies' requests against his 2014 campaign promise to cut taxes by $1 billion over a two-year period (he got almost to the halfway point in the 2015 session).
In a likely preview of another battle between Scott and the Senate, the Department of Economic Opportunity wants $75 million for an array of incentive programs to lure jobs to the state. It's highly doubtful the Senate would agree to that after the Legislature gave Scott $43 million of the $85 million he asked for in the current year's budget.
"If this request is not funded, the department will not be able to meet contractually obligated state of Florida payments and Enterprise Florida will not be able to compete for new competitive projects," DEO writes.
The reams of budget requests portray a creaky bureaucracy where equipment failures are common. For example, the Department of Juvenile Justice wants $700,000 to replace 200 aging computer switches in juvenile detention centers, assessment centers and probation offices that are prone to breakdowns, resulting in a lack of communication with families and providers. "At this point the devices become a security risk," the agency says.
The prison system wants $950,000 in next year's budget to move all of its archived email to one searchable repository. The agency says all emails prior to January 2015 are archived separately, and searches can take up to six months.
The prison system is being sued by The Miami Herald for withholding information on investigations of suspicious deaths and possible physical and sexual assaults of inmates.
"Public record requests and internal requests for information related to litigation and investigations are a significant requirement in the day-to-day operations of the department," says the agency, which has up to 46 pending public records requests at any given time.