Call To Action: Governor Scott, I Ask You To “Veto The Turkeys” In State Budget

Call_To_Action_Governor_Scott_Veto_Turkeys_In_State_Budget_Florida_Public_EmployeesBy: Christina Bullins – fellow Public Employee and concerned taxpayer

 

The Governor cannot add to the total appropriation allocated to the Department of Corrections in the budget that was passed.  However the two turkeys below were added during conferencing AFTER the criminal justice committees already significantly increased overall substance abuse funding.  Therefore should the below turkeys be vetoed, the money was still passed in the budget for DOC.  Therefore I call upon Governor Scott to veto these projects and request the Joint Legislative Budget Commission (active year round) to re-direct the monies to raises. I also applaud re-entry services and find that they are essential to our criminal justice system BEHIND that of a professional workforce with parity of pay, competitive compensation and JUST AND EARNED RAISES FOR AT LEAST COST OF LIVING INCREASES. Substance abuse funding was already increased and we must put HARD WORKING AMERICANS BEFORE DRUG ADDICTED CRIMINALS.

 

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS:
 
781 Pinellas Ex-offender re-entry Coalitition $150,000
785 Contract for Residential Substance Abuse- $1,000,000
Alachua, Bradford, Clay
 
TaxWatch strongly supports re-entry services and applauds the Legislature for increasing substance abuse funding. But the local re-entry project (this was also a Turkey last year, and was vetoed) and the specified counties receiving the additional substance abuse funding were added in conference.
 
– budget page 405
 
(i) Contingent upon the availability of funds, and at the agency head’s
discretion, each agency is authorized to grant competitive pay
adjustments to address retention, pay inequities, or other staffing
issues. The agency is responsible for retaining sufficient documentation
justifying any adjustments provided herein.
 
(j) Each agency is authorized to grant merit pay increases based on the
employee’s exemplary performance as evidenced by a performance
evaluation conducted pursuant to chapter 60L-35, Florida Administrative
Code, or a similar performance evaluation applicable to other pay plans.
The Chief Justice may exempt judicial branch employees from the
performance evaluation requirements of this paragraph
 
STATE EMPLOYEES-CONTACT THE GOVERNOR NOW!
 
Dear State Employees/Citizens,
 
Please see the letter below that I sent to Governor Scott today and join me in this Call To Action for fair and just compensation for state employees.  It is my sincerest hope that all stand together NOT as separate unions or professions, but as ONE – state employees and fellow Floridians.
 
Call or e-mail Governor Scott and let him know:
 
*DEMAND FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY—VETO THE TURKEYS!
 
*ASK THE GOVERNOR TO RE-DIRECT THE SAVINGS TO STATE EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION—PROVIDE STATE EMPLOYEES WITH THE DIGNITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES THAT COME WITH A GOOD JOB!
 
*TELL THE GOVERNOR THAT YOU KNOW HE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN IF HE WANTS TO BY CALLING THE LBC TOGETHER TO AWARD ALL STATE EMPLOYEES AS THEY HAVE DONE FOR DEP AND OTHERS EMPLOYEES IN THE PAST!
 
Please share this with others to take action. Let’s flood the Governor’s office with e-mails.
Should we find success, the success will be yours alone. Please note that all of the e-mails sent to the Governor are public information. Please stick to the key points and make it professional as to not detract from our effort. These points are crucial as they provide the tools to hold Governor Scott accountable for the philosophies and platform that he has set out himself. In addition to hold him accountable to be just and fair.
 
Governor Scott
Phone 850-488-7146
 
May 28, 2013
 
Dear Governor Scott,
 
I am asking that you use a heavy hand on your veto power. You have been presented with the most expensive budget ever given to a governor. Vetoing “turkey projects” as outlined by the Florida TaxWatch and re-directing the money to state employees is the right thing to do.  In 2011 you recommended that the money gained by your vetoes be re-directed. In June 2013, the Joint Legislative Budget Commission (LBC) approved $571,961 in bonuses for 269 employees of DEP.  Therefore this is a path, one of directing money towards state employees outside of the legislative session, already taken before by your administration and the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, as allowed by law.  You have the power to call the LBC together and recommend an amendment to provide just compensation to state employees.
 
Your re-election campaign is touting a statement by you, “You know, everyone deserves the dignity and the opportunity that comes with a good job”.  I am asking you to stand by your statement.  Treat the state employees with dignity by providing these hard working Americans with the opportunity for parity of pay and just compensation.  If not parity of pay then at least a creditable bonus.
 
Florida TaxWatch identified $121 million in projects that did not go through the legislative process, were not vetted but instead were placed in the budget during behind the scenes conferencing.  Some of these projects provide appropriations that will benefit non-citizens, felons and the unemployed while the corrections/probation officers and other state employees (hard working citizens)have not had their parity of pay addressed for years. However, using empirical data, you can very easily justify providing raises or bonuses for state employees.
 
In the turkey report section on what the the money be used for instead, Florida TaxWatch gave only seven examples, one of which was state employee raises! When Florida TaxWatch thinks it is justifiable to give state employees raises well then you know it is more than justified. The fact that the term “state employee raises” graces the pages of Florida TaxWatch at all should be proof enough that a raise is more than warranted.
 
There is a lack of fiscal accountability when the Department of Corrections loses more officers than they hire on any given month. The taxpayers are paying a lot of money to train the officers just to see them move on to another agency due to severe lack of parity of pay that should not exist per statute 944.023(3)(d) To provide fair and adequate compensation and benefits to the employees of the state correctional system and(4)(g)…..parity of pay or comparable economic benefits for correctional officers with that of law enforcement officers in this state…. Corrections and probation officers were omitted from the special raise given to that of other state officers for 2 years in a row. There also exists a much deeper parity of pay issue in promotional raises which is not present in other state agencies that employ officers. This results in an incredible lack of parity of pay for our sergeants, captains, probation supervisors and senior supervisors. Parity of pay for those in charge of the line staff is absolutely essential to ensure the professionalism in the agency. In addition, the very high turnover rate is causing exorbitant overtime costs that would not exist if the turn over rate was not so high. The lack of raises that are causing high staff shortages are making conditions very unsafe and morale at an all time low.
 
The average age of an officer employed by the Department of Corrections is 42 years old, the average time in the career is 10 years and the average salary is less than $40k per year. Please stand behind these hard working men and women, many who are raising families, and treat them with the fairness they have EARNED. Any additional money would certainly trickle down to the local economy.
 
In summary, I ask for fiscal accountability by vetoing many of the projects that were placed in the budget during conferencing. I ask that you do what you have done in the past which is recommend the money saved be redirected. I also ask for what you and the Legislative Budget Commission have already done in the past and pass an amendment to reward just financial compensation to state employees. There is nothing more conservative than ensuring that hard working Americans are treated with dignity and justly compensated. Following the empirical data, the conservative principles of fiscal accountability, transparency and responsibility will surely lead you to the same conclusion. I thank you in advance for standing by your platform to ensure the “turkey” money is re-directed to state employees.
 
Sincerely,
Christina Bullins
954-816-8385
 
STATE EMPLOYEES-CONTACT THE GOVERNOR NOW!

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