Florida TaxWatch report outlines $4.1 billion in possible state gov't budget savings

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A group of prominent Floridians comprised of current and former government officials, business leaders, and organizational experts has released a report providing a menu of 135 ideas collectively worth more than $4.1 billion in cost-savings and cost-containment in the coming fiscal year to help state government improve efficiency and effectiveness without cutting core service or programs.

The ‘Florida TaxWatch Government Cost Savings Task Force for FY2012-13’ released its final report today identifying productivity and efficiency improvements and other cost savings measures to change the way Florida government operates. The Report and Recommendations of the Government Cost Savings Task Force for FY2012-13 is the product of more than 50 concerned Floridians, on behalf of all of Florida’s taxpayers, working tirelessly over the short summer months to find constructive, pragmatic, principled cost-savings with special emphasis on criminal and juvenile justice, healthcare, procurement, education, and general government operations.

“This menu of cost-savings and efficiency improvement recommendations is provided to elected leaders and the taxpayers in order to reduce the cost of government while preserving core services. Implementing these recommendations will streamline government, which would make our state more competitive globally and lead to economic growth and job recovery,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. “Now, more than ever, recommendations like these to save taxpayer dollars and contain costs are vital.”

Mr. Calabro and Task Force Chair John R. Alexander, Chairman and CEO of Alico, Inc., along with Task Force members presented the report today in a news conference inside the Cabinet room at the Capitol in Tallahassee.

Task Force member and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said, “I’m honored to be a part of the continuing efforts of the Government Cost Savings Task Force and the mission to make government more efficient and accountable to the taxpayers of Florida. I applaud Florida TaxWatch’s continual efforts to streamline and enhance government services to our fellow Floridians.”

Emphasizing the importance of the report, Task Force member, Senator J.D. Alexander added, “As Chair of the Committee on Budget, my committee and staff have worked hard to implement several cost efficiencies and reform and I commend Florida TaxWatch and my fellow Task Force members for continuing its important work in enhancing efficiency and taxpayer value in state government. These are recommendations that will bring state government more in line with the private sector without compromising core services while saving taxpayer dollars.”

“I commend the efforts of the Task Force in finding dozens of ways to reduce the cost of government and improve government efficiency,” said Speaker-designate Will Weatherford on the release of the report. “I look forward to working with Florida TaxWatch, Speaker Dean Cannon, and the legislative leadership to discuss ideas like those in the Task Force report to realize cost-savings for Florida families and businesses.”

Cost-savings and cost-containment ideas from the report include:

  • Expanding evidence-based substance abuse, mental health, faith and character, and literacy and job skills programs to reduce recidivism
  • Continuing to reduce juvenile commitments to residential facilities for misdemeanants and aligning lengths of stay in juvenile residential facilities with best practices
  • Expanding the Civil Citation program with a targeted approach to address school-related arrests for misdemeanants
  • Implementing a defined contribution healthcare model
  • Expanding the role of Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants
  • Better identifying waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicaid and the health care system
  • Enforcing use of negotiated State Term Contracts to reduce the cost of purchasing needed goods and services by the state
  • Requiring the purchase of generic equivalents to needed products when they are available
  • Improving collection of legally owed sales taxes on remotely conducted sales
  • Standardizing the business process
  • Improving the management of state-owned vehicle fleet
  • Eliminating the Deferred Option Retirement Program

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.