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Amendment to Strengthen CFO Dies in CRC Committee

November 28th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
An attempt to put more controls on state spending was shot down by a Constitutional Revision Committee in the state Capitol Tuesday morning.
The proposed constitutional amendment would have given the state’s Chief Financial Officer authority over state contracts, which could have prevented debris removal price gouging after Hurricane Irma.
In 1998 Florida voters agreed to downsize Florida’s Cabinet from six members to just three… Some believe the CFO got the short end of the stick.
“It’s extraordinary that we would have a Chief Financial Officer Who can’t raise a yellow flag about the potential misuse or even waste of tax payers’ dollars,” said Commissioner Don Gaetz.
The CFO has little to no authority in making sure work required in state contracts was performed before the state paid the vendor.
“They’re essentially rubber-stamping the payment process,” said State Senator and Constitutional Revision Commissioner Tom Lee.
Lee proposed a constitutional amendment to give the CFO the authority to approve or deny state agency contracts of more than $10 million to provide more accountability. It would also have given the CFO a voice in the Revenue Estimating conference.
Half of the eight committee members in attendance voted no, shutting down the proposal, citing concerns over the separation of powers.
“It’s my job as Chief Legal Officer to consider constitutionality issues and in here they had a lot of issues with that,” said Attorney General and Commission Member Pam Bondi.
With the proposal dead, supporters fear price gouging of state agencies like what happened with debris removal contracts after Hurricane Irma will continue to cost tax payers millions.
“Why would we want to continue to let vendors charge ten times the going rate for debris removal in the Keys, because we don’t have an adequate set of checks and balances for someone to look over those kinds of things,” said Senator Lee.
Lee now plans to try and get lawmakers to put the amendment on the ballot.
A similar proposal was sought by former CFO Jeff Atwater in 2012, but was rejected by the Legislature.

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