Scott budget aides boycott Fasano-led panel
Upset with the way his aides were treated at a committee meeting last week, Gov. Rick Scott has decided that his budget experts will no longer testify before a committee headed by Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey.
Fasano, who chairs the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations, was aggressive in his questioning and criticism of two Scott aides at a session last week. They were Bonnie Rogers, who works in the budget office specializing in public safety, and Dan Ronay, the new chief deputy secretary or No. 2 man in the prison system. The story of what happened in that hearing is here.
"We're going to spend our time talking with those folks who are serious about passing a jobs budget and who we think are a good investment of our time," said Brian Burgess, Scott's chief spokesman. "He (Fasano) wasn't focused on the purpose of what our staff was called to testify about."
During the meeting, Fasano made it clear he strongly opposed a Scott proposal to eliminate 619 correctional officer positions in the Department of Corrections. Rogers and Ronay both kept their composure, but Fasano got into a shouting match with Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who strongly objected to the way Fasano questioned the just-hired Ronay.
Reacting to the decision, Fasano said: "I'm quite disappointed ... It's unfortunate. They've got to find out how the process works. I can only hope they would reconsider as we develop the people's budget."
Burgess said the boycott only applies to Scott's budget advisors directly in the governor's office -- not agency personnel.