Sansom: Fed stimulus no 'silver bullet'
After facing the press last week, House Speaker Ray Sansom looks ready to take a more high-profile role in managing the state's economy now that he sent out a letter to House members informing them of his plans to hold a special hearing regarding the details of the proposed federal stimulus package. Reps. Dean Cannon, Marcelo Llorente and David Rivera will hold the joint hearing.
Sansom's warning: The stimulus package is no "silver bullet."
Members of the House-
As we prepare for the upcoming legislative session and look for ways to revitalize Florida’s economy, President Obama and leaders of the U.S. House and Senate are exploring ways to provide fiscal stimulus to the nation’s economy. Part of the package under discussion involves financial aid to states and, according to some reports, significant amounts will be made available.
In an effort to help our Members understand how the details of this stimulus package pertain to Florida, I have asked Chairmen Llorente, Rivera, and Cannon to hold a joint council hearing regarding the proposed federal stimulus package. This will bring together members who are assigned specific budget and finance/tax responsibilities, and will include the councils’ lead Democrats, Representatives Thurston, Skidmore, and Saunders. I have also asked the chairs to invite Florida’s congressional representatives and members of the Obama administration to explain the details of the proposed package and begin to set reasonable expectations of how much funding will be available for Florida, and for what purpose and under what conditions it may be used.
While my inclination is to be optimistic, we must take a responsible approach to meeting our constitutional responsibility to balance the state budget. We must be proactive in our approach and do our best to understand how any proposed federal stimulus package would affect our ability to balance the state budget both in the current year and in future budgets. We should not consider this package a silver bullet that will solve all our fiscal problems. It has been reported that many of these federal dollars will have significant strings attached to their use. We have an obligation to understand the commitments we would be making by using these federal stimulus dollars to balance Florida’s budget.
Moving forward on solving the economic problems facing our state, I believe it is important to empower our Members with as much information and detail as possible so you can make the best decisions for Florida’s future. I encourage each of you to work actively in finding new ways to meet our challenges more efficiently and more effectively, and to focus on finding common sense solutions to the problems we face. It is only by getting Florida’s economy moving again that families and seniors will feel economically secure and our budget condition will improve.
I appreciate your service and look forward to seeing each of you back in Tallahassee next week. As soon as the joint council hearing is scheduled, we will notify you of the date.