Florida taxpayers should appreciate the fact that Gov. Rick Scott has been prodding state government agencies to cut their costs. When agencies save, taxpayers can, too.
But not when state agencies meet their budget targets by dumping their duties on local agencies, which also are bankrolled by taxpayers.
The Florida Department of Corrections recently suggested shifting about 5,600 inmates facing time in state prisons of less than a year to county jails to save the state nearly $48 million annually. At first glance, this seems sensible, because prisons are normally reserved for inmates facing longer sentences.
But the Florida Association of Counties says the move would cost its members $100 million a year; it's more expensive to keep inmates in smaller county lockups than in larger state facilities.
So while state government would end up ahead, county governments would wind up behind. Taxpayers would, too.
Ideally, state lawmakers would rule out financial chicanery like this, for the sake of both county governments and taxpayers.
But over the years lawmakers have dumped hundreds of millions of dollars worth of former state responsibilities on counties, or given counties new mandates to meet, without putting any state funding behind them.
Offloading state functions on local governments is one less than responsible way for lawmakers meet their annual obligation to balance the state budget.
We hope they don't resort to this or any other unfunded mandates.