The House calls them reductions -- not cuts
[House budget chief Ray Sansom addresses reporters this afternoon. Times photo | Scott Keeler]
The House Policy & Budget Council, on a largely party-line vote, approved $543-million in cuts to the current state budget Monday. The unofficial 24 to 9 vote was routine, but it sets a downbeat tone in advance of the 2008 session that will open Tuesday.
One year ago at this time, Democrats and Republicans were infused with a cooperative, bipartisan spirit. A year later -- an election year, admittedly -- there is plenty of partisanship in the air. After ratifying the cuts with testimony from one member of the public, the panel's chairman, Rep. Ray Sansom, R-Destin, disputed the Democrats' contention that they were cutting programs.
"There's a big difference between cuts and reductions," Sansom said. "We're not cutting anything. We have to balance the budget. We're doing what the people of Florida expect us to do ... This is not the United States Congress. We cannot spend in a deficit. We have to live within our means."
One Democrat, Rep. Ron Saunders of Key West, sided with the Republicans. He said he agreed with Republicans that Democrats who oppose budget cuts have a responsibility to offer budget amendments taking replacement money from other programs. "If we did it just to make a partisan vote, it doesn't make any sense," Saunders said.