Online business registration portal gets the green light

Jan 24, 2012

The House Government Operations Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday discussed its budget proposal for the coming year. James Call reports as one way to reduce costs and promote business growth the panel is proposing a One-Stop Business Registration Portal for state licenses and permits.

 

The Great Recession is echoing through capitol hallways as lawmakers write next year’s state budget plan.

Adam Keith of the House staff walks the committee through the proposed budget for the Department of Financial Services.

“The next page, page 9, line 74 represents a reduction of 4 FTE’s and $204,000 in budget authority from the employee assistance program in the Division of Worker’s Compensation.”

The Great Recession ravaged Florida’s economy. Governor Rick Scott’s $66 billion  spending proposal for next year is roughly the same amount of money Florida collected in taxes and spent in 2005. The state’s chief economist says analysts had to go back decades to find comparable drops in consumer spending and tax collections numbers. For next year, they predict Florida will have a budget shortfall of more than  one billion dollars.  That means committee chairs are on the search to identify savings and where they can cut spending. Pinellas Representative Ed Hooper leads the Government Operations committee. He decides the fate of the budget for departments like the Lottery, Financial Services and Revenue.

“Well, it’s always a difficult budget. In my six years that’s all I’ve known is difficult budgets and reductions but. The only positive thing is I think is with each budget process comes forward it makes us direct our attention to what is, rightly so, what is our core mission.”

 Hooper presented his plan to the full committee Tuesday morning. The committee has more than $219 million to spend on about a dozen state departments and offices.

“We’ve allocated $10.3 million in the budget for the repair and maintenance of state facilities. We need about a $100 million but we allocated 10.3...  We’ll improve that as the funding becomes available. The reductions total of $4. 6 million in the budget means that 208 positions are eliminated.”

Hooper added that most of the positions are vacant; but as many as 73 state employees are slated to lose their jobs. Pembroke Pines Representative Joe Gibbons is the ranking Democratic member on the committee.

“We really took advantage of streamlining some agencies and combining some agencies especially in the area of IT.”

IT is Information Technology and it is the one bright area that Hooper says is in the committee’s budget proposal. The panel voted to create a One-Stop Business Registration site on the Internet to cut the time it takes a business to get state permits to operate.

“It makes us more customer friendly, which is the object of the game so that customer’s constituents actually see an improvement in services. And it makes us a lot easier to deal with as an entity. That people have to come to to get licenses and etcetera.”

The committee found $3 million for phase one of the project. The bill directs the Department of Revenue to have the site up by January 2013. It would allow residents to complete and submit applications for various registrations, licenses and permits. Representative Hooper says it is the most exciting idea he has seen in six years at the Capitol.

“Call one number I’m done. And I get on to making my business successful  instead of sitting for two days phoning each agency, restaurant and hotel, DPBR sales tax all those agencies the Department of Health, all those agencies you have to spend time and energy and you have to have a lawyer  this is a. This is probably the most exciting thing to me that state government has transferred over to itself in my six years in the legislature.”

Lawmakers adopted the One-stop-Business proposal as a committee bill. It was filed as House Bill 5505 late Tuesday morning and is waiting to be scheduled for its next committee stop.