THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA: Arduin Back as New Senate Budget Advisor

February 11th, 2010

THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA published this article on February 11, 2010.


THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, Feb. 11, 2010.....The state Senate's newest office is going to be staffed by a familiar name from the recent past.

Donna Arduin, formerly budget director for ex-Gov. Jeb Bush and adviser to then-House Speaker Marco Rubio, will lead the new Senate Budget Office, created last fall by Senate President Jeff Atwater to shape state spending and economic policy.

Arduin is a partner in the firm, Arduin, Laffer and Moore Econometrics, which helped shape Rubio's 2007 plan to swap property taxes for a higher sales tax and continued to advise the House into 2008.

Among conservatives, the firm's nameplate carries the added sheen of including Arthur Laffer, a former economic adviser to President Reagan and a champion of supply-side economics, including the theory that tax cuts can yield higher tax revenues.

"We need good ideas, and who could be better to help us than a firm with President Reagan's former economic adviser?" Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, told the News Service of Florida.

"If he managed to help a recovery after Jimmy Carter, maybe they can help us out of this recession," Haridopolos said. "We're hoping we can get creative approaches that will help us in the short-term."

Terms of Arduin's contract have not been finalized, said Jaryn Emhof, Atwater's spokeswoman.

But the firm will effectively serve in the role of senior executive for the budget office, a position that had been advertised in the salary range of $70,000 to $175,000 annually.

A senior accountant, Noah McKinnon, also has been hired for the office at $65,344-a-year, Emhof said.

Arduin worked five years for Bush and later was director of finance for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She earlier worked for Govs. George Pataki in New York and John Engler in Michigan.

The Senate Budget Office will report directly to Senate Ways and Means Chairman J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales. While Arduin comes in with a long Republican resume, the SBO is envisioned as performing functions similar to those of the Congressional Budget Office, Atwater has said.

The North Palm Beach Republican said he wants the SBO to provide independent analyses of agency operations, financial structure, revenue sources and spending patterns.

When it was created in November, Alexander said the SBO was needed.

"Although individual state agencies are directed to recommend agency specific reductions to the Legislature, there is no single office responsible for an impartial and unbiased budgetary review of Florida's governmental agencies," Alexander said at the time.