Politics

Joe Negron Budget Directive: Are Older State-Backed Programs Still Worthy?

By: Jim Turner | Posted: December 6, 2012 3:55 AM

Joe Negron

Sen. Joe Negron

Longtime state projects may need to be cleared away to make space for new projects that sitting members want, rather than relying upon new revenue.

Florida Senate budget leaders will review annual allocations, some 20 years old, to determine if they are still warranted before allowing members to seek new projects.

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, directed subcommittee leaders on Wednesday to determine the continued validity of state contracts and recurring “big picture” allocations before the session begins in March.

While no overall list of allocations that will be reviewed was immediately available from the Senate, Negron said the new budget process should reduce paperwork and arguments about where projects stand in terms of overall relevance to the region or state.

“I think what we’re doing here is for each member who wants to fund something -- they can look and see if there is something that is a higher priority,” Negron said.

Local agency leaders should expect to be called to Tallahassee to appear before the subcommittees in January and February to give performance evaluations to describe how a project is working and how it provides.

And Negron noted that just because a local agency head is being called in to explain the worth of their work, he said the idea isn’t strictly to cut older projects that were championed by legislators that are no longer in office.

“It shouldn’t be looked at as a cut sheet or a list of things that have been predetermined as the best use of funds; there could be items on there that you say you know what that is, something we really need to encourage, and we may want to increase funding,” Negron said.

“I think it’s important that we look at this as our source for new projects and things that people want, rather than just looking at new revenue.”

Florida has a stable economic outlook, but several global factors could alter the fiscal prospects: the looming fiscal cliff in Washington; how deep the eurozone goes into recession; and the pending Florida Supreme Court decision on the 2011 law that required employees to pay 3 percent of their salary toward their pension.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.


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