New GOP reform plan in Tallahassee would rid collective bargaining right for most state workers

On the first day of the legislative session yesterday, House Republican leaders unveiled wish list of reforms.  Some of the roughly two dozen items on the list are controversial, Speaker Larry Cretul admits.

The Associated Press lists some of the proposals:

- Establishing a Florida Savings Fund to guarantee that the state maintains adequate cash reserves to protect Florida's attractive bond rating, despite extreme budget pressures.

"This year, that AAA rating will save taxpayers million of dollars in debt financing costs," Cretul said. "Over many years, that top rating means billion of dollars in savings. It has a tremendous impact on the state's bottom line, both short-term and long-term."

- Including "plain-language explanatory" comments on budget documents and opening the final budget process to public view. In the past, last-minute wheeling and dealing over the budget often has occurred behind closed doors.

- Offering state employees a deeper choice of health benefit plans, but requiring workers to pay more.

- Launching a comprehensive review of Florida laws and repealing any outdated or otherwise unnecessary statutes. In addition, lawmakers will look into the way state agencies adopt new rules.

"It does Floridians little good for us to set policies to bring economic growth back to Florida if state agencies are going to hinder those efforts with bureaucracy and red tape," Cretul said.

- Looking for efficiencies in the state's management of various auto and truck fleets, perhaps resulting in a merger of those operations into a single entity.

- Hiring more tax auditors for the Department of Revenue to improve tax collections.

However, the Tallahassee Democrat's Bill Cotterell also reports that:

The GOP plan would include elimination of collective bargaining rights for most state employees, except those in law enforcement and public health, and would move the Department of Management Services under the Cabinet's control. Cretul said DMS, now under the governor's office, needs efficiencies in managing state real estate and overseeing Florida government's personnel programs.