Task force sets ambitious goal of finding $3 billion to cut from state budget

Aug 31, 2011

The following article was published in The Florida Current on August 30, 2011:

Task force sets ambitious goal of finding $3 million to cut from state budget

By Kim MacQueen

A special panel charged with cutting the size, scope and cost of government held its first meeting on Tuesday and during its quick session agreed to try to find $3 billion in cost savings throughout state government.

The group set the goal even though lawmakers have made cuts in schools and health care this past year as they have sought to fill a nearly $4 billion shortfall. That shortfall was also filled by mandating that public employees contribute 3 percent of their salary to cover pension costs.

The Florida Government Efficiency Task Force is mandated by the state constitution to meet every four years.

During their first meeting task Force members, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon, adopted rules, elected officers and got its marching orders during the 20-minute conference call.

Abraham Uccello, a Sarasota realtor appointed by Scott to head up the task force, was named its official chair Tuesday. Sen. Lizbeth Benaquisto, R-Wellington, was named vice chair. 

It was Uccello who told the members that he would like the group to come up with a series of savings that could trim back $3 billion from the state budget.

“We want to have the most creativity, the most productivity and the most possibility in all of these submissions,” Uccello said. “In order to do that, we have a narrow scope, somewhat and rather large objectives.”

Uccello asked task force members, which also includes Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral and Rep. John Legg, R-New Port Richey, to produce three cost-savings ideas for consideration by the full panel Monday. The task force meets again Sept. 19, kicking off a series of meetings designed to produce specific recommendations to the governor and Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court in time for the 2012 legislative session.

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