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Governor diverts raises to pay for port security

Jeb Bush asks state employees earning more than $90,000 to give up pay increases.

By ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 8, 2001


TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush wants the state's best-paid employees to give up their raises for a common good: securing Florida's seaports.

Bush sent a letter Tuesday to state Comptroller Robert Milligan, asking him to skim the raises off the paychecks of nonunion employees who earn more than $90,000 and use it to pay for added security at Florida's ports.

Specifically, Bush said he wanted the money to pay for National Guard members to patrol the ports.

Last week, Bush ordered the activation of more than 300 Florida National Guard troops to provide extra security at four seaports, including Tampa's, as well as at two of the state's three nuclear power plants.

The Port of Tampa and three others -- the Port of Miami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral -- were identified as "high risk ports" because of the cruise ship traffic and dangerous cargo that pass through them.

Bush's order will add $6.3-million, the raises of 1,688 state employees, for seaport security. Those employees were asked to give up their latest increase last month while lawmakers were in a special session to fix a $1.3-billion shortfall in the state budget.

The order does not apply to members of the Legislature or its employees. House members passed a bill the first day of last month's special session to forgo their own raises, which would have saved $80,000. The measure did not pass the full Legislature.

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