Democrats seek 'holdback' details from Crist
For weeks, the House Democratic Caucus has been seeking more detailed information from Gov. Charlie Crist's administration on the real-life impacts of the 4 percent "holdback" Crist ordered July 1 to avoid a budget deficit (agencies and programs are getting 24 percent of their quarterly budget allotments).
A letter to Crist from Rep. Dan Gelber, which was not made public when it was sent, says: "We appreciate that with the specter of an election looming, many will want to put off some of these important decisions to next year."
"Our caucus, however, would like to get a better grasp of how you plan to meet the deficit," wrote Gelber, D-Miami Beach, the House Democratic leader. His letter claims that any unilateral action by the governor violates a 1991 Florida Supreme Court decision in Chiles v. Children A, B, C, D, E and F, which cited "the legislative responsibility to set fiscal priorities." (Crist's administration says he can impose a holdback, under Section 13 of the Constitution).
Curiously, Gelber and the House Democrats did not release the Aug. 15 letter when they sent it to Crist (The St. Pete Times obtained a copy this week). Since then, the Legislative Budget Commission passed Crist's request to reduce the current year deficit by $672-million, leaving a $795-million gap. The letter prompted a meeting last week between Gelber and Crist's chief of staff and budget director, but Gelber said Thursday he's still waiting for more information.