| February 10, 2011

Governor's budget a model for other states

“Having promised to govern as a consistent conservative,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott “appears to be doing just that,” reports Peter Roff, a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Gov. Scott has introduced a state budget that is “a model for what other reform-minded governors may want to do in their states.”

The state’s current budget, enacted under Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist, puts total spending for the year at $70.4 billion dollars. Scott has proposed cutting that, turning in a budget that spends $65.9 billion in 2011 and $63.3 billion in 2012—a sizeable cut by most any standards. He also proposes to cut taxes by $4 billion over two years, which is also a considerable amount, considering Florida is one of the few states left without a state income tax. Included in those cuts is a plan to reduce the business tax from 5.5 percent to 3 percent as a first step toward completely phasing it out by 2018, and a $1.4 billion cut in property taxes over two years.

Part of the savings will be achieved through the elimination of failing economic development programs and a plan to ‘carefully’ expand other programs based on ‘measurable goals’—something of a twist on the conventional approach to government problem solving, which usually measures the seriousness of a commitment by the amount of money spent rather on the results achieved. …

All together, Scott has proposed an ambitious plan that puts the taxpayers’ interests ahead of the special interests, especially those within state government itself. It’s the kind of budget that the Tea Party Nation can get excited about—making it a model for what other reform-minded governors may want to do in their states. It’s clear that Scott not only got the message about what voters wanted in 2010, he’s acting on it. The mandate they gave was not to better manage the welfare state; it was to winnow it down.

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