Significant changes to Florida's government structure and budget cuts being proposed by advisory teams assembled by incoming Republican Gov. Rick Scott are raising eyebrows.
In recent weeks the teams, composed mostly of private-sector businesses, have proposed merging numerous state agencies.
One team has recommended combining the departments of Transportation, Environmental Protection, and Community Affairs into a new agency called the Department of Growth Leadership.
Scott campaigned on a promise to cut 6,000 state jobs and create 700,000 private-sector jobs. He is expected to get support for most of his proposals now that both the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. In addition, all elected Cabinet-level positions are now held by Republicans, including the chief financial officer.
One bill Republicans will entertain during the upcoming legislative session is a plan to encourage more doctors to treat Medicaid patients by capping damages or extending sovereign immunity.
Sovereign immunity would shield Medicaid providers from lawsuits for negligent acts and could cost taxpayers an estimated $69 million a year, according to outgoing CFO Alex Sink, who is a Democrat.
"These are costs not currently borne by our state, and would amount to Floridians paying for the mistakes of private health care providers," Sink said in a letter to House and Senate leaders last week when she presented an actuarial analysis.
Scott will be sworn into office Jan. 3. The annual legislative session starts March 8.