Ausley declines chance to join Crist team
Rep. Loranne Ausley, D-Tallahassee, who must retire from the House in November due to term limits, could have been the fourth major Democrat in Republican Gov. Charlie Crist's administration. But she confirmed Tuesday that she declined an offer to apply for the open position of secretary of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. "It's just not the right time for me," said Ausley, a 44-year-old lawyer whose 5-year-old son Will enters kindergarten in August.
The boy, known as "Iron Will," was born severely premature, but as captured here by photographer, Mark Foley, he charmed the House last month when he was allowed to clutch Speaker Marco Rubio's gavel.
APD Secretary Jane Johnson announced her resignation May 2, the last day of the legislative session, and Ausley said a Crist staffer approached her about the job soon after that. APD has faced severe budget deficits in its short life, and providers are irate at what they describe as a $43-million cut in services to about 25,000 people served through the Home and Community Based Services Waiver.
The state Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (ARF) wants Crist to call a special legislative session to eliminate that budget cut. Ausley says she'll continue to help the administration find a new APD chief, saying: "It's a critical position." The lawmaker serves on Crist's Children's Cabinet and a task force on autism.