Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Scott-O-Meter

Propose biennial budgets and give the public time to participate


"Propose biennial budgets in order to adequately review budget goals and give the public time to participate in the budget process."


Updates

Scott drops two-year budget plan

When Rick Scott proposed his first-year budget in January 2011, he also offered up a second-year state spending plan — and proposed the idea of a biennial budget to the Legislature.

Lawmakers didn't take him up on it.

So for 2012-13, the governor "decided to propose a number of other 'accountability budgeting concepts,' " said his communications director, Brian Burgess.

But a two-year plan isn't among them.

(We're following Scott's promise to implement "accountability budgeting" separately.)

During his campaign, Scott proposed biennial budgets as part of "Step 1" in his seven-step plan to create 700,000 jobs. The purpose was "to adequately review budget goals and give the public time to participate in the budget process."

Scott's proposed 2012-13 budget, presented at the Capitol on Dec. 7, 2011, arrived a month before the start of the 2012 legislative session — no earlier than required by statute. It's available on Scott's "Let's Get to Work" website, which allows visitors to create their own reports by agency and agency position. That gives the public access to participate in the budget process, but no additional time as described in Scott's campaign plan.

In addition to exchanging email with Burgess, we also asked Scott's Communications Office for an update on this promise.

The written response said, "This promise was kept. The governor proposed a biennial budget for fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13 to be considered during the 2011 legislative session. The Legislature did not have an interest in implementing this proposal."

In other words, merely proposing biennial budgets in Year 1 relieved Scott of his campaign pledge "to adequately review budget goals and give the public time to participate in the budget process," something he once considered key to "force the bureaucrats in Tallahassee to justify every tax dollar they spend."

Scott's office, however, took a different approach on a related promise to implement accountability budgeting. Scott proposed an accountability budgeting system in 2011, but it was rejected by the Legislature.

So what is he doing this year? He's trying again!

Scott proposed an accountability budget for three state agencies in order to pilot the idea. If it's successful, the governor plans to eventually expand the approach to all agencies.

Scott put his biennial budget proposal in his seven-year campaign plan to create jobs. But he's abandoning it after just a single try in his first year. We can only rate this Promise Broken.

Sources:

Gov. Rick Scott, "Policy and Budget Recommendations: Fiscal Year 2012-2013," Dec. 7, 2011

Email interview with Brian Burgess, communications director, Governor's Office, Dec. 7, 2011

Gov. Rick Scott's Communications Office, written responses to PolitiFact's questions about the Scott-O-Meter, Dec. 28, 2011

Gov. Rick Scott, "Let's Get to Work," accessed Jan. 4, 2011

PolitiFact Scott-O-Meter, Institute Accountability Budgeting for each state agency, updated Jan. 4, 2011

St. Petersburg Times' Buzz blog, "A two-year budget? Nice idea, but ..." Feb. 8, 2011

St. Petersburg Times, "Scott's budget boosts schools, hits hospitals," Dec. 8, 2011

Governor's Office, "Governor Scott Unveils Florida"s First "Jobs Budget” Before a Capacity Crowd in Eustis," Feb. 7, 2011

2011 Florida Statutes, Chapter 216: Planning and Budgeting, accessed Dec. 8, 2011

Rick Scott's first budget is for this year, and next. Now will the Legislature go along?

Gov. Rick Scott promised during the campaign to force state government to take a longer view when approaching its annual spending plan.

Scott, a tea party favorite, argued that the farther you looked into the future, the less likely you were to make knee-jerk decisions that you would come to regret. As an example, he singled out the state's decision to accept and rely on temporary federal stimulus dollars that, he said, only delayed tough decisions or falsely propped up budget hopes.

So Scott said he would propose two-year budget plans to 1.) Help steady Florida's fiscal future and 2.) Allow the public and voters to understand where the state was heading.

On Feb. 7, 2011, Scott proposed his first-year state budget -- and his second-year state spending plan. Scott's two-year budget plan would shrink the overall state budget from $70.3 billion to $65.9 billion in 2011-2012 and to $63.3 billion in 2012-2013. You can see Scott's proposals by clicking here.

Scott's proposed two-year budget is just that -- a proposal. The Legislature ultimately is the one that passes the budget, and neither House Speaker Dean Cannon or Senate President Mike Haridopolos has said whether passing a two-year budget is a priority.

Scott, after unveiling his proposal, told reporters that passing a two-year budget is "the right thing to do." But he didn't say he'd veto a budget if it was for only one year, calling the question hypothetical.

Still, for the purpose of his promise, Scott said he would propose biennial budgets. And he has done just that. We also feel comfortable that rolling out his spending plan across Florida -- including his budget announcement in tiny Eustis -- is at the least an attempt to give the public input. And proposing a two-year plan allows the public more time to review spending plans for both 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

We'll be watching to see if he continues to propose two-year budgets moving forward, but for now, Scott has delivered on what he said during the campaign. We rate this Promise Kept.

Sources:

Gov. Rick Scott, proposed 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 budgets, released Feb. 7, 2011

Gov. Rick Scott, comments to reporters, Feb. 7, 2011