State Payrolls Trimmed, Positions Cut from Florida Budget
By LaDarius Calhoun
Less than a week after the state legislature passed its 2015-16 budget. Gov. Rick Scott signed a $78.2 billion state budget Tuesday, June 23. Scott hit a record number of line-item vetoes, totaling $461.1 million, which eliminated projects, programs and jobs throughout the state.
Scott explained that cutting the state’s budget is no different than what he has done previously in the field of business.
“You’re expected to create productivity gains every year in business,” Scott said.
Scott compared government agencies to businesses, saying that government agencies should have the same expectations as a business owner.
“…They expect productivity gains,” Scott said. “We should expect the exact same thing out of all our government agencies.”
Scott said he will continue to look at every government agency to find productivity gains.
The new budget was previously passed by the House and Senate at the conclusion of their special session that began earlier this month. The state’s new budget cut 1,142 positions and created 326 positions, for a net loss of 816 positions.
Scott’s decision hit the Department of Health the hardest, eliminating 758 positions with the inclusion of 215 positions that were currently filled.
According to budget documents from Scott’s office, the DOH cuts would have an impact on various programs such as children’s health care, local health initiatives and statewide public-health services.
The budget cuts will also impact other agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection which lost 155 positions including 41 filled spots, and the Department of Transportation, which lost 100 positions. All of those DOT positions were vacant.
The governor’s vetoes evoked outrage by some lawmakers, including Republican senators who claimed Scott removed funding that would be beneficial to millions of Floridians and provide more efficient services.
Senate president Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) reacted strongly to the cuts, particularly the elimination of $8 million in funding that would be used to help Floridians Gardiner describes as having “unique abilities.”
Gardiner, whose son has Down syndrome, accused the governor of placing politics in front of policy. He believes the vetoes targeted charitable agencies and a program for training doctors to serve more rural regions of the state.
“It is unfortunate that the messaging strategy needed to achieve the governor’s political agenda comes at the expense of the most vulnerable people in our state,” Gardiner said.