Thursday, February 17, 2011

More pushback to Scott: Budget chief says
state plane sale broke the law

From David Royse of the News Service of Florida on Feb. 17:
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's sale of the state’s planes may have violated Florida law, the Republican chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said in a letter to the governor Thursday.

Ironically, the letter comes from the legislator who has probably been most vocal that the state should sell the planes, Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, who has pushed for the sale of the aircraft for five years. And in his letter, Alexander applauded his fellow Republican Scott for the idea.

“I support your goal, but not the method,” Alexander wrote. “It is important that the proper procedures for accomplishing a goal we both support be followed.”

Alexander noted that Scott’s office last month directed the sale of the state’s two airplanes, using the proceeds of the sale of one of those planes to satisfy lease obligations on the second plane. That essentially means the governor spent state money without an appropriation spelled out in law, which is barred by the constitution.

The law also spells out what must be done with money that comes into the state from the sale of “disposed property,” a law that may have also been broken by the sale, Alexander said.

Another problem: the law also prohibits agencies from not spending money lawmakers have appropriated for a certain purpose. Last year’s budget contained appropriations for lease payments, operations and maintenance of the two planes. To not lease, operate and maintain them appears to violate the law, Alexander said.

“It is my position that you should have sought the approval of the Legislature before undertaking the sale of the state planes and using the proceeds of the sale of Plane One to satisfy the lease obligation of Plane Two,” Alexander wrote. “My concern, of course, is that these actions may have violated the law and as such fail to recognize the Legislature by not respecting the Legislature’s constitutional duty to appropriate funds and your duty to spend appropriated funds in accordance with the law.”


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