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House Democrats push for budget transparency

UPDATED 4:35 p.m.: House Republican budget Chairman David Rivera responded to the Democratic letter late Thursday afternoon. An excerpt: "Your refusal to participate in setting priorities for the state budget can only be taken as evidence of one of two facts: either you are unable to set meaningful priorities for our state or simply unwilling to do so. Either way, Floridians can be assured that your abdication of responsibility is a declaration that you and the members of the Democratic Caucus are unable and unwilling to lead this state to economic recovery."

Calling the House budget process "fundamentally flawed," House Democratic leaders asked Speaker Larry Cretul to end the futile budget exercises and secret meetings and embrace a more transparent approach.

In a letter signed by Minority Leader Franklin Sands and incoming leader Ron Saunders, the Democrats want to see a joint meeting to look at revenues and expenditures at the same time. The House appropriations committees currently are discussing budget priorities and will next will look for areas to cut. But the real decisions are often made by top House Republicans without input from the Democrats, the minority asserts. (Read the whole letter here.)