Even the buzzards smell a dead budget
Scores of buzzards - ahem, "turkey vultures" - were seen this afternoon circling the Florida Capitol as lawmakers got started on painful budget deliberations.
Rep. Alan Hays, head of the Government Operations Appropriations Committee and a former dentist, opened his meeting with this: "The patient has some problems and we need to go in and operate on the patient. But we want to make sure the patient is still living and better off when we get through than she was when we began. It's going to require some incisions with a very sharp scalpel and perhaps magnification. We'll ask all the agencies to give us as much magnification as we need to make good decisions."
Agencies are being asked to prepare 10 percent in cuts -- which Hays, R-Umatilla, described as "educated offerings of sacrifice. ... These are unusual times and to expect solutions to come from usual solutions is expecting too much."
Over in the Knott Building, the House Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriations Committee heard from a string of court and law enforcement officials petrified about deeper cuts.
"Your court system today ... is basically in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, treading water, trying to make due with the cuts we've already sustained," said Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.
He said 10 percent cuts would force the layoffs of 478 clerks, expert witnesses, case managers and others.