One little-discussed budget approved by lawmakers was what could amount to the elimination of funding for OPPAGA, the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, reports the News Service of Florida. Lawmakers eliminated direct spending on the auditing and review agency and put its budget into a discretionary account controlled by legislative leadership. The Orlando Sentinel noted in a story Monday that several legislative leaders have expressed frustration with OPPAGA, but quoted Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, expressing regret about the budget move. “It is unfortunate that the Legislature can’t have/fund a truly independent auditing entity that can be honest without fear of political retribution,?Dockery told the Sentinel. ?hile Oppaga has done some good in-depth analysis, it became clear that due to the political climate, the response to brutal honesty was pink slips.” The change in the way the office is paid for follows last year? cut of more than $2 million from the agency? roughly then-$8 million budget. The Legislature likely can? fully eliminate OPPAGA ?lawmakers have put into statutes requirements that it evaluate certain things. For example, the same budget that lawmakers passed earlier this month also will require OPPAGA to study the case law output of the Supreme Court “in terms of both quality and efficiency.” OPPAGA also, under the budget item, will have to study the court’s staffing, the structure, function and effectiveness of the Judicial Nominating Commission and Judicial Qualifications Commission, and the effectiveness of the merit retention system.
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.