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Be afraid, agency chiefs. Sen. JD Alexander keeps budget reins

Sen. J.D. Alexander will remain the budget chief under incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos for the next two years. And that's bad news for anyone or any agency trying to hide the ball in the state budget. With a veto-proof majority in the Legislature and incoming Republican Gov. Rick Scott (who's bent on trimming fat, and maybe breaking a budget bone or two), Alexander's influence will be greater than ever.

In other Senate news, John Thrasher is rules chair and Don Gaetz will head up reapportionment. (Prediction: Joe Negron, former House budget chief and policy whiz will be Health Appropriations chairman, Sen. Paula Dockery might consider herself lucky to sit on a committee). Anyway, here's the press release:

Incoming Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos today announced three more Senators to his leadership team.

They include:

·         Senator John Thrasher, Rules Chair

·         Senator J.D. Alexander, Budget Chair

·         Senator Don Gaetz, Reapportionment Chair

Rules Chair John Thrasher (R- Jacksonville) will chair the Rules Committee. He joined the Senate in a special election in 2009. Prior to his service in the Senate, Senator Thrasher served in the House of Representatives from 1992 to 2000.  From 1998 to 2000, Senator Thrasher served as Speaker of the House.

“Having led the House of Representatives, Senator Thrasher is uniquely qualified to be Rules Committee chair,” said incoming President Haridopolos.  “He has my upmost trust and I’m proud to have Senator Thrasher on my leadership team.”

Budget Chair J.D. Alexander (R-Winter Haven) will chair the newly restructured Budget Committee, which includes seven subcommittees. He has served in the Senate since 2002 and prior to that served in the House of Representatives for two terms. Senator Alexander chaired the old Senate Ways and Means Committee for the past two years.

“Senator Alexander has a passion for holding government accountable,” said incoming President Haridopolos. “There is no better fiscal watchdog in the Senate and with declining tax revenues, he’ll ensure Floridians’ money is spent in the wisest way possible.”

Reapportionment Chair Don Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) will oversee the redrawing of legislative and congressional districts. Senator Gaetz was first elected in 2006 and previously served as Superintendent of Schools in Okaloosa County.

 “With the passage of Amendments 5 and 6, Senator Gaetz will have the responsibility of leading our efforts in redrawing legislative and congressional districts,” said incoming Senator Haridopolos. ““This may be the most challenging committee chairmanship of all but Senator Gaetz’ leadership will help us navigate this once a decade process.”

 All new committee chair assignments take effect November 16 when the Senate meets in organization session.