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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

It may be a new year, but still no love lost with Hays and OIR



Ouch. That was a rough half hour or so for Audrey Brown, chief of staff for the Office of Insurance Regulation. Brown went before the House gov ops committee this afternoon to present her office's proposal for cutting the annual budget by $2.77 million, or 10 percent.

Committee chair Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, was none too impressed. "Is that your best offer?" he asked flatly. Then he ripped into the proposal for cutting 50 positions, noting that when he tried last year to cut 26 positions, Brown and others in the office fought it.

 "You said that would be devastating," Hays said. "Well, now you're proposing that we reduce your office by 50 positions. So what's that going to do?  Do you really think that is realistic?"

Some cuts would come by eliminating regulators over specialty insurance. Brown told the committee many states do not regulate specialty insurance.

"This is a way to get at the 10 percent," she said. "It is realistic."

"There will be other ways to get at the 10 percent," Hays retorted. "I don't know if I should feel sorry for your office and its inability to follow the budget instructions. Or should I feel insulted that your office would submit a proposal that, frankly, I think is absurd?"

He told Brown to "look at the elimination of a lot of paperwork. I think you should look at more efficiencies."  Hays also suggested Brown withdraw a proposed budget amendment to restore some of the funding cut from OIR's 09-10 budget.

"I'll tell you right now: I am going to do everything I can to stop that from happening," Hays said. "It goes against the spirit of what we are trying to do. All of the other agencies are making reductions. ...I recommend you withdraw that request. It's your little red wagon, you can pull it how you want to, but the cold hard reality is, there is no money."

Um, yeah. Ouch.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:14pm]


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