State Capitol Briefs
Around the State
DCF TO CUT NEARLY 500 JOBS STATEWIDE
Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins notified employees on Monday that as the agency seeks to achieve nearly $50 million in budget cuts, it will be cutting nearly 500 positions statewide. "We anticipate that some of these employees will be able to stay with the department, performing other duties," Wilkins said in a message to employees. "For those who will not be able to remain, we are providing transition assistance."
KOON: WORRIED ABOUT HURRICANE AMNESIA
Florida’s top emergency manager told reporters Monday he’s concerned that the absence of severe storms in recent years may be lulling Floridians into a false sense of security as the 2011 hurricane season approaches. Bryan Koon, the director of the Division of Emergency Management, said he’s confident Florida’s emergency response network is up to the task, but worries that residents are not. “The concern I would have is that since we’ve gone five seasons without a land-falling hurricane, we’ve got citizens who, perhaps, have forgotten some of what that experience in 2004/2005 was like,” Koon said. “We also have new Floridians who have not, perhaps, dealt with hurricanes before."
TRANSPORTATION GROUPS CALL FOR TRUST FUND RAID VETO
A coalition of roadbuilding industry and other business groups on Monday urged Gov. Rick Scott to veto a portion of the budget that will remove $150 million from the transportation trust fund, arguing it will kill jobs. “The proposed $150 million raid on the transportation trust fund creates a potential $301.4 million reduction in the Department of Transportation’s construction work program from now through June 2012,” the Florida Transportation Builders Association and eight other organizations said in the letter. “This one-time sweep has the potential to eliminate more than 8,400 Florida private-sector jobs and will only add to Florida’s strained unemployment compensation and health care systems.” The groups pointed to the governor’s efforts to position Florida to take advantage of the expansion of the Panama Canal, and tried to link roadbuilding to that. “Without a substantial transportation infrastructure in place to help move those goods, Florida will jeopardize its chance to fully take advantage of this unique trade opportunity,” the letter said. Scott has until June 1 to sign the budget. In addition to the FTBA, the letter signers were the Asphalt Contractors Association of Florida, Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Engineering Society, Florida Institute of Consulting Engineers, Florida Public Transportation Association, Florida TaxWatch, Florida Trucking Association and the Underground Utility Contractors of Florida.
GAS PRICES BACKING DOWN
The average price of a gallon of gas in Florida this week is down 9 cents from last week to $3.82, AAA Auto Club South reported. The national average is $3.85 a gallon, 11 cents lower than last week. The auto club said Sunday that a falling euro is the main reason for the drop in prices, with the dollar getting stronger against it. The auto club also had good news for Memorial Day travelers: Gas prices are expected to drop about another nickel a gallon this week.