JMI Policy Director Bob Sanchez quoted in Naples News article “Rick Scott in Charge: Challenges Begin Wednesday for New Florida Governor” regarding the policy challenges ahead for Governor Rick Scott.Excerpt:
. . . That hasn’t stopped Scott’s various transition teams from making bold proposals — education savings accounts, merit pay for teachers, merging departments and consolidating health-care agencies for starters.But he can expect plenty of push-back, experts said, not only from well-connected interest groups and state agencies, but from state legislators with their own political interests.“It’s always been the case that the governor proposes and the Legislature disposes,” said Bob Sanchez, policy director for the conservative James Madison Institute think tank in Tallahassee, adding, “The Legislature that was elected tends to be at least as conservative as the governor in many respects.”. . .Scott’s first budget proposal is due Feb. 4. He already has vowed not to raise taxes or fees — in fact, he plans to lower them — meaning he will have to find fat to trim in state agency budgets.“The bottom line is, the stimulus money dries up now,” MacManus said. “They’re not going to have that as a budget plugger.”One possible remedy is requiring all state agencies to identify a certain percentage of their budget that isn’t essential to their core mission. Another solution, privatizing some tasks that currently are performed by government — running concession stands at state parks, for example, Sanchez said.“There is going to have to be a triage process,” he said.. . .Included in the team’s report was the recommendation to merge the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Community Affairs into a new Department of Growth Leadership. How far that proposal will go may depend on the Legislature.“Sometimes there is an up-front cost to merging departments, even if there are long-term savings,” Sanchez said. “The question is, do you want the up-front costs to occur when there are worries about the budget?”. . .Last April, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed Senate Bill 6, a controversial education bill that would have linked teacher pay to student performance, and required that new teachers be hired on annual contracts with no chance at tenure.At the time, Crist called the bill “significantly flawed.” Sanchez predicts the bill, or something similar, will be revived in 2011.“This time I don’t think the governor is likely to veto it,” Sanchez said.. . .His law and order transition team said the Department of Corrections is “broken.” Included in the team’s report was a call to reform sentencing laws to cut back the prison population, and reduce recidivism by creating mission-focused prisons with an emphasis on chemical dependency, literacy and developing vocational and technical skills.Scott’s proposals have received push-back from the union representing Florida’s corrections officers, which aired television spots warning residents that inmates may be released due to spending cuts.“There are people who have a vested interest in seeing that there continue to be prisons and the prisons continue to be filled,” Sanchez said.