Gov. Rick Scott thinks so highly of the Friends of Florida State Parks that he plugged $750,000 into his proposed budget for the group to match with private donations and put toward improved park facilities. But some legislators think so little of the nonprofit that they want the ability to kill it and other citizen organizations that support crime victims, the Guardian ad Litem program and even the state's prescription drug database.
Under SB 1194 and HB 1153, this is a push for ethics reform gone awry. The legislation legitimately establishes financial reporting requirements for the support groups, but it also includes a provision giving lawmakers the authority to review and repeal the so-called direct-support organizations. Try raising matching grant money from the private sector if you can't guarantee your existence five years down the road.
The legislation's aim is to establish the same transparency requirements for the nonprofits that government agencies must follow, a spokesman for Senate President Don Gaetz told Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman. It's a valid goal but poorly executed under these bills. Certainly, no state agency faces extinction in 2019 if it fails to post its annual report on a website.
Legislators should drop the review-and-repeal directive from these bills and let the groups concentrate on what they do best — use private dollars to aid the same constituencies served by state government.