Mostly True
Lopez-Cantera
"I've cut the budget of the (lieutenant governor’s) office by more than half."  

Carlos Lopez-Cantera on Saturday, April 30th, 2016 in in an interview with Fox 13

Carlos Lopez-Cantera says he slashed his office budget

Gov. Rick Scott (left) named Carlos Lopez-Cantera as his lieutenant governor in 2014 (Tampa Bay Times).

In the crowded Republican primary to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera says he has evidence that he takes care of taxpayers’ wallets.

"I've cut the budget of the office by more than half, reduced the staff," he said in an interview on the April 30 Money, Power, Politics show on Fox 13 in Tampa. "I'm the only lieutenant governor to not take a security detail."

He has declined his security detail, breaking from his predecessors. Lopez-Cantera has also cut the budget and reduced staff positions.

But he is leaving out some context.

The only official role of the lieutenant governor is to replace the governor if he leaves offices or dies. What he or she does in the meantime varies with the governor and his or her vision.

Lopez-Cantera is not as active or in the public eye as much as some of his predecessors, rarely posting official events on his public calendar and not tasked with any special assignments from Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott’s first lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll, resigned in March 2013 after she was questioned by law enforcement about her ties to a charity group that was the subject of probes. (She was not charged with wrongdoing.) She chaired a task force about Florida’s Stand Your Ground law after Trayvon Martin’s death and chaired the Space Florida Board.

Scott tapped Lopez-Cantera, a former state legislator and Miami-Dade property appraiser, to replace her almost a year later in February 2014.

Let’s see how the budget changed.

Reducing budget and staff

The lieutenant governor’s budget has ranged from about $245,000 to $540,000 in recent years.

Lopez-Cantera’s office does not have its own budget like other state agencies. Scott proposes a budget that includes the lieutenant governor. It is then up to the Legislature to pass a budget, which Scott then signs into law.

The amount of money below includes the $125,000 annual salary for the lieutenant governor.

Year

Allotment

Expenditure

2009-10

$439,646

$433,006

2010-11

$540,440

$537,664

2011-12

$504,169

$587,389

2012-13

$509,806

$471,091

2013-14

$245,016

$156,435

2014-15

$485,160

$415,522

2015-16

$240,693

$242,875

2016-17

Not announced yet

NA

So for a few years the lieutenant governor’s budget was about $500,000.

The it was chopped in half to $245,016 for the 2013-14 budget year that started July 1, 2013, a few months after Carroll resigned.

It’s no surprise that the allocation dropped since the office was vacant.

Since Lopez-Cantera took office in February 2014, it is also not surprising the allotment nearly doubled to $485,160 for the 2014-15 budget year.

The next year, the budget allotment dropped to slightly less than when Lopez-Cantera started to $240,693 — a 50 percent decrease.

Most of the budget is staff salaries.

 

Employee Count (excluding LG)

As of January 1, 2010*

3

As of January 1, 2011**

5

As of January 1, 2012**

5

As of January 1, 2013**

5

As of February, 2014***

4

As of January 1, 2015***

2

As of January 1, 2016***

1

*     Kottkamp

 

**   Carroll

 

*** Lopez-Cantera

 

Lopez-Cantera cut the staff, but it’s worth noting that the size of the staff was small for starters.

It's also worth keeping in mind that Lopez-Cantera has access to the full weight of the governor's office for his needs, including the press office, legislative aides and budget analysts.

Under Carroll, there were five employees in the lieutenant governor’s office each year, which included a chief of staff and assistants. When Lopez-Cantera started in February 2014, there were four staffers. Then the number dropped to two, and now he just has one employee whose title is a special assistant.

The governor’s office said no one was laid off. We asked if that meant that Lopez-Cantera cut empty positions or shifted jobs to the governor’s office or elsewhere. The governor’s office didn’t answer that question.

Our ruling

Lopez-Cantera said, "I've cut the budget of the office by more than half."

He omits some context about how his office budget works. Scott recommends a budget, which is then approved by the Legislature. Lopez-Cantera's own resources may be limited, but he downplays the access he has to Scott's vast governing operation for assistance.

Months after Lopez-Cantera started, the budget rose by roughly double to bring it more in line to where it was when a lieutenant governor in the office. But after that increase, the budget allotment dropped the next year to slightly less than when Lopez-Cantera started to $240,693 — a 50 percent decrease. The budget largely pays for Lopez-Cantera’s salary as well as a special assistant.

We rate this claim Mostly True.

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