FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER TOM
Volume 1, Number 11,
March 15, 2004
Sir Winston Churchill said,
“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word:
freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope.”
I would like to share a
story that I believe exemplifies what Churchill meant.
Adam Rivero, an investigator
in the State Fire Marshal’s Office, has been an Army reservist for 20 years. He
serves as a staff sergeant with the 320th MP Company from St.
Petersburg. Rivero and his friend, fellow Staff Sgt. Christopher Grilo of the
800th MP Brigade from Uniondale, N.Y., have made it a tradition that
one of them carries a small American flag when they deploy. The flag has been
carried to 13 countries
“I decided to carry a flag
in my wallet to be a constant reminder of who I was and to motivate others by
pulling this flag from my wallet and proudly showing it at times when patriotism
began to diminish,” Rivero said. “I was proud of the fact that I love my
country and being a soldier committed to its defense.”
Each of us has a
responsibility to protect and nurture the freedom that makes our nation
Those who voted last week in
Florida’s Democratic primary carried out their responsibility.
Those who call or write
their legislators to urge a change or support a proposal are carrying out their
Those who take the time to
serve on a jury are fulfilling their responsibility.
Rivero carried a flag.
At only 3 inches by 5
inches, the soldiers wrote the name and date of operations on it — Saudi 91,
Haiti 96, Bosnia 97/98, Salvador 99, Cuba Camp X-ray 2001, Kosovo/Macedonia
2001, Kuwait 2003, Iraq Feb 22, Baghdad May 10.
One of the flag’s last trips
was to the site of the fallen World Trade Center towers.
“Like so many others,”
Rivero said, “Sgt. Grilo and I are common people and I wanted a way to
personally document the impact of military intervention towards the preservation
of freedom and democracy throughout our world, in my lifetime and in the
Rivero is back to
investigating fires for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and Sgt. Grilo remains
on tour in Iraq. Like looking for clues at fire scenes, Rivero is continuously
looking for ways to support the country he loves.
“It is something that is
precious to me,” Rivero said.
Freedom is precious and
should never be taken for granted.
JOINS KEY LEGISLATORS TO DERAIL BULLET TRAIN
Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today joined forces with key legislative
leaders to derail the bullet train, including House Speaker Designate
Allen Bense, Senate Democratic Leader Ron Klein, and Representative Bob
Allen. Representatives Dennis Baxley, Fred Brummer, Carl Domino, Andy
Gardiner, Gayle Harrell, Ron Reagan, and David Rivera, and Senators
Charlie Clary and Rudy Garcia also threw their support behind the
effort. State Department of Transportation Secretary Jose Abreu was also
Last week, CFO
Gallagher teamed up with Governor Bush to support both a legislative and
grassroots effort to give Floridians the opportunity to repeal a
high-speed rail. Over the next 51 days, Bush, Gallagher and state
lawmakers will pursue passage of a joint legislative resolution to place
a constitutional amendment on the 2004 ballot repealing the high-speed
rail initiative. Lawmakers need a three-fifths supermajority to place
the amendment on the ballot.
“I applaud the
leadership of lawmakers standing with me today who are also gravely
concerned with the multi-billion dollar price tag associated with
building a high-speed rail - a cost that will fall directly in the laps
of Florida taxpayers,” said CFO Gallagher. “In the face of mounting
evidence, diverting billions of taxpayer dollars to implement a
high-speed rail is simply unconscionable.”
having trouble getting from Miami to Orlando. They are having trouble
with traffic congestion while they are in Miami and while they are in
Orlando,” said Sen. Klein. “These funds should be focused on regional
transportation solutions that we need to improve the day-to-day lives of
were sold a false bill of goods,” said Rep. Allen, who is sponsoring the
joint resolution. “We were all told about this utopian transportation
system, but never of its cost.”
“I have serious
concerns that taxpayers are being asked to pay for a project that should
be largely funded by the private sector,” said Rep. Bense.
report issued by the Florida High Speed Rail Authority in January 2002
estimated that the cost to build the first 80-mile rail segment between
Tampa and Orlando would be between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion. In
January of this year, the Authority reported that the costs have more
than doubled to an estimated $2.6 billion.
In November 2002,
the High Speed Rail Authority conducted a ridership study and
subsequently commissioned a Peer Review Panel to perform an independent
assessment of the study. Upon conclusion of its assessment, the panel
did not endorse the ridership study citing questionable ridership
projections, negligible time savings for travelers and lack of
flexibility in transportation once arriving at the station.
lack of endorsement by the Peer Review Panel raises serious doubts that
the state can secure financing from the investment community backed
solely by ridership revenue,” said Rep. Gardiner, who chairs the
Transportation Systems Subcommittee. “Without a sound investment grade
report, the state will have no choice but to back financing of the
project with state funding.”
According to the High Speed Rail Authority, with no guarantee of federal
funding and a lack of funding from the private sector, Florida taxpayers
are facing at least a $140 million price tag annually for the next 30
years just to build the first rail segment.
“Implementing a project of this magnitude will come at a great cost to
Florida taxpayers and could negatively impact the current and ongoing
transportation needs of our state,” said Sen. Garcia. “There is simply
not enough room in the state’s transportation budget to implement both a
high-speed rail and long-standing and critical transportation projects.”
“Building just the
first phase means that Floridians will do without highway and roadway
improvements such as those planned for the Palmetto Expressway in Miami,
I-75 in Lee County, US 19 in Pinellas County, SR 520 in Orlando, I-95 in
Brevard County, Butler Boulevard in Jacksonville, and US 331 in Walton
County,” said Secretary Abreu. “These are transportation projects with
known benefits. High-speed rail is an unknown.”
projects in the state department of Transportation’s Five-Year Work
Program that would be in jeopardy if high-speed rail is implemented are
“High-speed rail would focus our transportation funding on a losing
proposition,” said Rep. Reagan, who recently learned from the California
High Speed Rail Authority that their state’s rail project is now running
50 percent higher than the original bid price. “Florida cannot afford
to misuse any of our transportation dollars.”
any action by the Legislature, CFO Gallagher will push for a citizen
petition drive to collect more than 489,000 signatures to get an
amendment to repeal the rail on the November ballot. To accomplish this,
Gallagher is chairing the Derail the Bullet Train (DEBT) Committee - a
committee formed to educate Floridians on the escalating costs and
financial ramifications of building a high-speed rail with taxpayer
In response to
inquiries from interested citizens, DEBT launched a website last Friday
- where citizens can download a petition form to support repeal
of the high-speed rail.
PROJECTS IN JEOPARDY IF HIGH SPEED RAIL IS IMPLEMENTED
Roadways and Highways
Addition of lanes and rehabilitation of pavement of I-95 from SR 518 to
SR 519 to improve a key evacuation route for all of South Florida.
Reconstruction of CR
516 from Knecht Rd. to RJ Conlan Blvd. - to improve safety and decrease
New road construction from Andrews Avenue exit from Bridge over CSX
railroad and roadway approaches - a new connector to relieve congestion.
Addition of lanes
and reconstruction of SR7/US 441 from north of Hallandale Beach to
Funston Street - needed capacity to ease congestion and a drainage
system to alleviate flooding problems.
Addition of lanes
and reconstruction of CR 818/Griffin Road from SR 93/I-75 west of
Flamingo/124th Avenue - needed capacity to ease congestion.
Addition of lanes and reconstruction of I-75 from Golden Gate Parkway to
south of Bonita Beach Road - a major north-south artery for Southwest
Addition of lanes and reconstruction of SR 826/Palmetto Expressway from
SW 32nd Street to SW 16th Street - to reduce
congestion and help traffic flow.
Addition of lanes
and reconstruction of SR 25/Okeechobee Road from east of W. 12th
Avenue to west of 19th Street - to alleviate traffic
New road - NW 87th
Avenue from 58th Street to NW 74th Street - to
accommodate fast-growing communities in Doral and Hialeah Gardens.
I-10/I-95/Myrtle Avenue to relieve congestion and address safety issues.
Addition of lanes
and new pavement from I-95 from Heckscher Drive to I-295/SR 9-A - a
Gateway project to ease congestion and improve interstate travel.
Escambia and Santa
Addition of lanes and reconstruction of SR 87 from north of Five Forks
Road to Eglin Air Force Base - a key evacuation route, needed to
Addition of lanes
and reconstruction of SR 281/Avalon Boulevard from North of CSX Railroad
Bridge to SR 10 - to ease congestion and provide infrastructure for
Addition of lanes and reconstruction of I-275, improving key access to
Tampa International Airport.
I-75 from Fowler Ave. to CR 581 - to decrease congestion in a statewide
economic development corridor.
Acquisition of RW
I-4 Selmon Expressway from 7th Ave. to I-4 - to ensure the
preservation of a key shipping route to the Port of Tampa.
Manatee and Sarasota
US 301 to improve crucial inter-county link.
Orange, Osceola and
Addition of lanes
and reconstruction of SR 520 to west end of SR 528 to east of CR 532 - a
key evacuation route.
Construction of a
major interchange at I-4 and East-West Expressway - to alleviate most
congested interchange in metro Orlando.
Addition of lanes
and new pavement on SR 50 from west of SR 436 to west of SR 417 Greenway
- a key commuter route with major congestion.
Palm Beach County:
to SR 710/Beeline Hwy. to increase capacity and improve safety.
I-95 from PGA Blvd. to Donald Ross Rd., adding capacity to roadway in
vicinity of SCRIPPS development.
Addition of lanes to SR 52 from Moon Lake Rd. to Suncoast Pkwy,
decreasing congestion in an evacuation route.
of lanes and reconstruction of SR 688 from 119th St. to Long
Branch Canal, reducing severe congestion in a major east-west connector
and evacuation route.
Reconstruct SR 55
(US 19) from 49th St. to 126 Ave. N. - to decrease congestion
in a regionally significant roadway.
St. Lucie and Martin
Addition of lanes
and reconstruction of SR 5/US1 from Rio Mar Drive to North of Midway
Road - needed capacity to ease overcrowded roadway.
Addition of lanes
and reconstruction of SR 70 from west of Header to McCarty Road - to
ease congestion and add capacity to SIS roadway.
of lanes and new pavement of I-4 from Saxon Boulevard Interchange to SR
472 - a key commuter route from Volusia to Metro Orlando.
Addition of lanes
and reconstruction of SR 40 from Cone Road to West Tymber Creek - a key
Source: Florida Department of Transportation’s Five-Year Work Plan
(as of February 2004)
GOVERNOR BUSH SIGNS BILL PROVIDING HEALTH CARE TO MORE THAN 90,000
1.7 million children covered by state, double the amount since 1998.
Governor Jeb Bush, on March signed KidCare legislation that will provide
health care coverage to more than 90,000 additional children, ending the
state’s current waiting list. The bill contains $25.2 million in state and
federal funding, as well as provisions to ensure the program continues to
serve the largest number of children for the longest period of time.
"Once this legislation is signed, letters will be sent to parents
throughout the state telling them their children will now be covered under KidCare. I thank the Legislature for moving quickly to pass this bill, and
for instituting thoughtful reforms that will ensure the program can continue
to help Florida’s children," said Governor Bush. "This bill brings important
discipline to a program that helps children who have no other health care
options because they don’t have access to insurance coverage."
SB 2000 provides more accountability, greater fraud prevention and brings
the program more in line with private insurance enrollment provisions. It
also ensures KidCare recipients have access to dental services and removes
the per year cap on benefits.
"I applaud Governor Bush and legislative leaders for their continued
commitment to improving children's access to health care and to sustaining
the financial viability and success of Florida's KidCare programs," said CFO
Tom Gallagher. "Providing life-sustaining health care to the children of
families struggling to make ends meet is one of the best investments we can
"With the signing of this bill, we are sending a message that taking care
of Florida's children is of paramount importance," said Senate President Jim
King. "By our quick action, we are now able to provide health insurance to
more than 90,000 children - an accomplishment that should make all
Floridians proud. I thank the bill sponsors in the Senate, Senators Peaden
and Dockery, for their hard work and dedication to this issue, and look
forward to many more good bills coming out of this legislative session."
"The KidCare Program will serve as a vital safety net for thousands of
children who desperately need to be able to see a doctor," said House
Speaker Johnnie Byrd.
This compassionate program not only meets the needs of these children,
but it ensures that the program will remain solvent in the future. It is a
great Republican program."
Among the bill’s reforms:
Eligibility and Fraud Provisions: Children with
access to employer-sponsored coverage will be eligible for the program
if the cost of coverage is more than five percent of family income, and
all candidates must provide proof of income and employer-sponsored
health benefit status during application process. Individuals who
defraud or attempt to defraud the KidCare program during eligibility
determination are subject to prosecution according to the state
assistance fraud statute.
Enrollment Periods: The bill provides for open
enrollment periods similar to those available to purchasers of private
health insurance. The periods will be announced in August and December,
and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Medicaid-eligible children
can enroll in that component of the KidCare program at any time. Sick
children eligible for Children’s Medical Services will be enrolled on an
emergency basis outside the enrollment period, within the KidCare
Accountability: SB 2000 calls on the Auditor General
to recommend mechanisms to prevent ineligible children from enrolling
and to periodically audit the program. OPPAGA is also required to study
premiums and report back to the Legislature on its findings.
The Governor was joined at the bill signing by CFO Tom Gallagher, Senate
President Jim King, Senator Nancy Argenziano, Senator Mike Fasano, Senator
Durell Peaden, Representative Bruce Kyle, Representative Rafael Arza,
Representative Frank Farkas, Representative Carole Green, Representative Ed
Homan, Representative Stan Mayfield, Representative Sandra L. Murman,
Representative Marco Rubio and Representative Joseph R. Spratt. Also joining
the Governor were Rose Naff of Healthy Kids and Department of Health
Secretary Dr. John Agwunobi.
THE FLORIDA KEYS AREA OF CRITICAL STATE CONCERN
Governor and Cabinet, acting as the Administration Commission, signaled a new
direction in approaching responsible growth management at the March 9th
Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee.
maintaining the critical state concern designation established in 1986, CFO Tom
Gallagher, Agricultural Commissioner Charlie Bronson, Attorney General Charlie
Crist, and Governor Bush unanimously agreed to consider a partnership approach
in resolving the outstanding land acquisition, affordable housing, and
wastewater concerns that dominate the Florida Keys.
partnership will encompass a focused approach to land acquisition, similar to
the success achieved in acquiring land for Everglades restoration. The Governor
and Cabinet authorized
offering up to 125 percent of the 1986 appraised value to acquire
environmentally-sensitive land to relieve development pressures in the Keys.
They also approved the use of rate of growth ordinance (ROGO) credits unused in
previous years to accelerate affordable housing developments.
addition, the commitments established for addressing wastewater concerns in
Florida Keys are unprecedented. In total, contributions from the State of
Florida matched with the contributions
of Monroe County, the Village of Islamorada, and the City of Marathon will
approach approximately $300 million.
The March 9th
decision initiates the rulemaking process, which will elicit public input prior
to the development of a draft proposed rule. The development of the draft rule
will be followed by additional public hearings prior to the adoption of the
final rule outlining specific steps to accomplish compliance with the Area of
Critical Concern designation.
LEADERS PLEDGE CONTINUED SUPPORT OF SCHOOL CHOICE
Last week, more than
2,000 students, teachers and parents gathered near the steps of
Florida’s Old Capitol in a huge demonstration of support for school
choice programs. State leaders, including Chief Financial Officer Tom
Gallagher, praised those attending and promised to continue their
support of vouchers for low-income families, disabled children and
students trapped in failing schools.
“The results of
education reforms enacted in 2000 speak for themselves,” Gallagher
said. “We’ve seen the number of ‘A’ schools grow five-fold and
witnessed a 10 percent increase in the number of fourth graders reading
on grade level.”
served as Education Commissioner from 1998-2000, previously helped to
guide school choice reform from a revolutionary idea to implementation
of early programs. He has also been instrumental in ensuring the
programs continued success in his current role as Chief Financial
Officer. To guarantee the future financial viability, Gallagher’s
office conducted a series of audits of Florida’s school choice programs,
resulting in valuable recommendations to education leaders and
“Just as we hold
Florida’s students to high standards, we must hold government to the
same standards,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher, in order for these valuable programs to continue to provide
educational opportunities to thousands of children, many of whom are
at-risk students, strong oversight, proper safeguards and financial
accountability must be put in place.
programs must be protected,” said Gallagher. “They empower parents to
seek educational opportunities for their children which were previously
Lorri Westphal, a
Tampa mother who attended the rally, told the Tampa Tribune that,
“Without these scholarships, this kid (14 year-old son Gregory) would
have been a statistic. There’s no doubt in my mind, he would have
served jail time.”
Florida Department of
Consumer Services HelpLine (800)342-2762.