Legislative budget transparency: a good idea for everybody else
Florida's lawmakers say they want to make the state's $70 billion budget process more transparent but when it comes to handling contracts and disclosing state salaries, neither Senate President Don Gaetz nor House Speaker Will Weatherford is quite ready to require the legislature be held to the same standards that it imposes on state agencies.
State law imposes strict rules for no-bid and sole source contracts in state government, requiring any contract over $250,000 be put out to bid and any sole source vendor to meet strict requirements. But the legislature has exempted itself from those rules.
There are nearly 33,400 contracts listed on the Chief Financial Officer's website with data on who gets paid for them and how much each vendor collects from taxpayers. The legislature does not list any of its contracts on the public site.
Anyone working for state government in an agency or state university has his salary posted for all to see on Gov. Rick Scott's FloridaHasARighttoKnow.com website. But there is no salary information for the legislature and its 1,530 employees.
Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who each became presiding officers in November, make it available only upon request. This doesn't please Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, himself a former Republican Senate president from North Palm Beach.
"I don't think the legislature should be exempting itself from the laws it is placing on other agencies,'' Atwater said last week. Story here.