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The separation of powers doctrine is expressly codified in Fla. Const. art. II, section 3: The powers of the state government shall be divided into legislative, executive and judicial branches. No person belonging to one branch shall exercise any powers appertaining to either of the other branches unless expressly provided herein. The doctrine encompasses two fundamental prohibitions. The first is that no branch may encroach upon the powers of another. The second is that no branch may delegate to another branch its constitutionally assigned power.
Appellee foster children sought declaratory and injunctive relief against appellant administration commission members. The action stemmed from the state's determination of a general revenue shortfall in the budget requiring state agencies to prepare revised financial plans reducing their current operating budgets. The trial court granted appellees' request, held Fla. Stat. ch. 216.011(1)(ll) and 216.221 to be unconstitutional, and enjoined appellants from attempting to restructure an appropriations act, 1991 Fla. Laws ch. 91-193, § 1, pursuant to the budget reduction procedure established in Fla. Stat. ch. 216.
Did the legislature, in passing section 216.221, violate the doctrine of separation of powers by assigning to the executive branch the broad discretionary authority to reapportion the state budget?
The court affirmed the trial court's order. The court held that the statutes, Fla. Stat. ch. 216.011(1)(ll) and 216.221, were unconstitutional as a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers because the statutes were an impermissible attempt by the legislature to abdicate a portion of its lawmaking responsibility and to vest it in an executive entity, resulting in the powers of both the legislative and executive branches lodged in one body. This concentration of power was prohibited by the tripartite system of constitutional democracy.