You Paid For It: Lawmakers’ failure to finalize budget on time costing taxpayers

AP Photo/Steve Cannon

FLORIDA (WFLA) — The Florida Legislature is expected to pass an $83 billion state budget on Monday. Too bad that didn’t happen Friday in time to save Florida taxpayers between $52,000 and $74,000 in operating costs for this extra day of business, based on what taxpayers paid for prior Special Sessions.

That’s how much the daily expense of Special Sessions have cost taxpayers in recent years. House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, a democrat from Tampa, thinks it will run closer to $72,000.

A last-minute, round-trip flight to Tallahassee for a Miami lawmaker, for example, costs as much as $1,000 on short notice, and You Paid for It.

“As a taxpayer, when you hear that, of course you’re gonna be angry,” said Tampa resident Keith Freda.

“There’s many things we could do with that money to better use it,” said Raul Nardi.

That taxpayer cost could climb substantially if state lawmakers return for a special session called by the governor to resolve implementation of the Medical Marijuana Amendment that was overwhelmingly approved by voters last year.

If Governor Scott decides to veto the entire state budget, instead of exercising line item veto power, that may call for another session, once again at the taxpayer’s expense. But, it all starts with finalizing the budget, something lawmakers hoped to do Monday night, on the first day of the extended session.

“If they’re wasting our money, then I think they really need to kinda step it up,” said taxpayer Natalie Russo.

There are a lot of “if” and “maybes” in all of this. The only certainty is that we’ll pay more for this year’s state spending plan because lawmakers couldn’t complete the only task they are constitutionally required to do during the 60 day legislative session that expired Friday — pass a budget.

“That’s pretty much kinda ridiculous if you think about it,” said taxpayer Jessica Claud.


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