A two-year budget? Nice idea, but ...
Rep. Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee, gave Gov. Rick Scott props today for unveiling a two-year budget. It's always wise to take a long view of finances and it's something typically done in the private sector, he said.
But will the Legislature approve a two-year budget? In a news conference yesterday, Scott gave the impression he hopes lawmakers will do just that.
But Horner said it's not likely a two-year budget will happen. "I have not been informed that the Legislature is going to be looking at a two-year budget. We have a constitutional responsibility to do a budget every year, and it's a one-year budget," he said. "We're going to do that."
Horner chairs the House transportation and economic development appropriations subcommittee. The group raised questions today about Scott's plans to cut 38 Florida Highway Patrol officers, control nearly $1 billion of economic development money over the next two years and roll 14 trust funds into the general revenue.
Regarding the officers, Horner said it's important to be aware of the impact removing those officers will have on the street, as well as the revenue they generate. Horner also said it remains to be seen whether lawmakers will roll back motor vehicle fees.
"Nobody was excited about doing those fees. Frankly, it's something that was a bitter pill to swallow in difficult times," he said. "If there is a way we can reduce the taxpayer burden on Floridians, I want to do it. But we've got a $4.6 billion hole to fill."
Horner also said he is eager to see details on how Scott plans to spend $303 million in economic incentives this year. Scott's budget calls for him to control another $503 million next year.
"I have every confidence the governor has a plan to make sure these dollars are used accountably. We just haven't heard it yet," he said.
Rep. Hazelle Rogers, D-Lauderdale Lakes, said she'll be watching how the governor spends trust fund money.
"It wasn't as transparent as it should be. You're telling me you have a trust fund and you're telling me you're taking all of it and you're not telling me whether or not it will be used for the purposes intended," she said. "There should be some legislative oversight."