UPDATE: Negron children’s services deal sour pill for someby Dara Kam | April 21st, 2010
UPDATE: Sen. Joe Negron successfully attached the children’s services agreement to a bill dealing with early childhood education this afternoon but the Senate didn’t take a final vote on the bill (SB 2014) yet.
The state’s children’s services councils agreed to a deal with Sen. Joe Negron this year because they would likely have fared worse in the future, a lobbyist for the special taxing districts said.
Negron’s deal would require that voters reauthorize the state’s eight children’s services councils that have taxing authority periodically, beginning in 2014 with Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties.
The councils voted to accept the deal yesterday but Martin and St. Lucie refused to vote on the plan that would require voter reauthorization every 12 years unless the referendum specified another time frame or no future vote at all.
Negron, already a Senate leader after less than a year in office, will be even more powerful after his reelection in the fall, said the state council association’s lobbyist Ron Book.
Negron believes that all boards, councils or other groups that have the ability to tax citizens should be elected.
The Stuart Republican wants the change because he’s unhappy with the Martin council’s spending on a new headquarters.
Children’s advocates say the councils are an easy target because they have less clout than taxing authorities like water management districts.
“I think they’re right. But that doesn’t mean that he as a policy maker and an elected member of the Florida Senate shouldn’t move legislation that he thinks is right,” Book said.
He said the councils weren’t forced into the deal but they would likely do worse next year.
“There is less incentive for Sen. Negron to negotiate a compromise next year or the year after than there was this year,” Book said. “Sen. Negron becomes an even more significant leader in the Florida Senate after his reelection and I think that that is an issue they had to consider. Will you do better to negotiate a compromise today than later? They were in a better position to negotiate something that they could live with today than they would be next year.”
Negron, who plans to amend a bill with the compromise today on the Senate floor, said he never threatened the councils and that they are working with him to ensure that the House signs off on the agreement.
“I gave on lots…If anything I think I moved more toward their side to try to be accommodating,” the Stuart Republican said.
The change is going to happen this year, Negron said.
“We’re not even thinking about next year. I’m 100 percent confident this is going to get done this year,” he said.