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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Here Comes the $69 billion 2012 Florida State Budget

With July 1, 2011 just two days away, Gov. Rick Scott’s $69 billion dollar budget is just around the corner. The Governor’s budget is $1.4 billion less that last years $70.4 billion dollar budget. According to the Miami Herald, the budget eliminates about 4,500 state positions, most of them filled, while school districts, due to spending cuts, are expected to lay off thousands more.

Medicaid - big changes in store

2,186 bills were filed this legislative session. 295 passed. Here are the bills tracked by the Fl League of Cities.

Florida’s approximately 3 million Medicaid recipients are in store for some big changes. With the Governor and lawmakers claiming that Medicaid was over whelming the state budget, two bills, HB 7107 and HB 7109, according to the bill’s supporters, will rein in costs and improve patient care by privatizing the state’s Medicaid program. The bills also require providers to save 5% the first year. The plan divides the state into 11 regions where managed care plans and hospital networks will bid on contracts. The governor claims that the plan will save $4 billion over the next two years. The federal government must approve the plan.

Pensions -- everybody’s talking about them

For the first time Florida's government workers, state and municipal, will be required to contribute to their own retirement, joining government workers in the other 49 states. SB2100 requires that the state take 3% of the salaries of teachers, police and state employees and put the money into the Florida Retirement System.

How much does the public contribute to gov't employee's pensions, like those of the county commissioners, judges, sheriffs, senior management, etc? Go here and go to page 106.

On June 20, 2011, three of Florida's municipal workers unions filed suit in state court to block the new law. The unions claim that the state violated its contract with the workers when it deducted 3% of their salaries and shifted the money into the Florida Retirement System. Unions argued that according to state law, employees do not have to contribute part of their salaries into the state retirement system.

Scott's budget predicted to put thousands out of work

The upside of Gov. Scott's budget is that he is eliminating approximately 2,000 unfilled, but budgeted government positions. This is a trick state and local governments have used to bloat their budgets and hide money from the public. For years, this slight of hand trick was a hallmark in Columbia County.

According to Ocala.com, 2,500 real positions in state government will be eliminated with significant layoffs coming from workers in state mental health hospitals, juvenile justice facilities and state prisons.

The predicted 8% cut in education funding is expected to result in the additional loss of thousands of jobs and schools around the state.

The Cuts

The complete list of vetoed items can be found here.

On May 26, 2011, Gov. Scott vetoed a record $615 million after lawmakers previously slashed nearly $4 billion from the budget. These are some of the highlights:

  •  Nearly $4.8 million to public television and radio Stations
    .
  • Nearly $14 million from the various University of South Florida campuses
    .
  • A request by the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority to roll over its unspent balance
    .
  • $305 million in a state trust fund for environmental land acquisition
    .
  • Three line items for Daytona State College: $7.8 million for a remodel of and addition to the News-Journal Center, $2.4 million for remodeling the college's existing theater center and $3.012 million for renovation of a classroom building and air conditioning system improvements that college officials said would save $200,000 a year in energy costs
    .
  • $10 million appropriation for St. Johns River restoration
    .
  • $12 million for a national veteran's homeless support group
    .
  • $6 million in economic aid to the Florida Panhandle.
    .
  • $165 million for construction, remodeling and renovation projects earmarked for Florida's universities, state colleges and K-12 public schools.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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