Instant editorial: Open budget process

Sep 11, 2009

Fort Myers News Press

Here’s a good idea that will never get through the Legislature:

Miami Sen. Dan Gelber (a candidate for attorney general) and Sarasota Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, both Democrats, want lawmakers to put a state constitutional amendment on the 2010 ballot requiring more openness in the way the Legislature conducts meetings, writes budgets and manages public records.

It would require a public notice whenever two members from a joint House-Senate conference committee discuss pending legislation; a three-fourths vote to approve all nontechnical amendments to legislation in the final five days of a regular or special session; and writing the budget in plain language showing the source and purpose of funds. It would also allow a circuit judge to rule whether a legislative document is a public record. Right now, the House and Senate can shield many documents.

The proposal must get 60 percent of the popular vote to pass. That’s highly likely, but first it has to pass each chamber with a three-fifths majority.

Fat chance.

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Political advertisement paid for and approved by Dan Gelber.