House backs eliminating employee charitable campaign
TALLAHASSE, Fla. – After plummeting contributions and controversy about how money was used, a House panel Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would eliminate the decades-old state employees' charitable campaign.
The House Government Accountability Committee backed the proposal (HB 1141), filed by Rep. Clay Yarborough, a Jacksonville Republican who said employees can give directly to charitable organizations and causes.
"We're definitely not trying to stifle giving," Yarborough said. "Employees are still giving. They are just not giving through this method."
Yarborough said contributions had dropped from a peak of $4.9 million in 2005 to $282,000 in 2016.
The program, which has involved payroll deductions, became embroiled in controversy in recent years because of a contract with a private fiscal agent -- and questions about whether excessive amounts of money were going to the firm.
The state Department of Management Services suspended the program late last year and ended the contract with the firm, Solix, by mutual agreement, the Tallahassee Democrat reported in December.
News Service of Florida