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House Dems demand hearings before cuts

House Democratic leader Franklin Sands sent a memo to House members Monday calling for hearings on the budget at the start of next week's two-week special session. The Legislature is faced with having to make yet another round of cuts to help close a $2.3-billion budget deficit.

"We urge Republican leaders to hold public hearings at the outset of the special session to discuss how spending reductions or new revenues, if any, should be allocated across the various policy areas of the budget," Sands' statement said. "While it may be convenient for lawmakers to simply agree in advance to a privately crafted budget proposal, we think it is more appropriate that the public be allowed to participate in a frank conversation involving all budget options." Read Sands' memo here.

The Republican majorities in the House and Senate have the burden of finding where to make the cuts in the budget. If recent history is any guide, Democrats likely will oppose the cuts, arguing that Republicans are harming public education and shredding the safety net for Florida's most vulnerable residents.

-- Steve Bousquet