Richard Corcoran Archives - Page 3 of 62 - Florida Politics

Awkward: Ray Rodrigues on sex and the Capitol at AP Day

As much as he perhaps would have liked to avoid it, House Republican Leader Ray Rodrigues fielded a “sex” question at Thursday’s AP Day at the Capitol.

Rodrigues, filling in for previously scheduled House Speaker Richard Corcoran, was asked about Corcoran’s comment on a “wall of silence” in the Senate to news that Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens had an extramarital affair with a lobbyist. Clemens has since resigned from office.

But Rep. Cary Pigman, a Republican, reportedly began an affair in 2015 with his then-district secretary, to whom he is now married. He still is in the House.

Rodrigues, of Estero, was asked whether anyone in the House made an issue of that affair, or asked for an investigation.

“The first thing I would say is, those actions—if true and accurate—occurred before we initiated our rules changes,” he said, referring to added rules on sexual harassment.

“To my knowledge there was no complaint filed against Rep. Pigman,” he added. “Had there been, we would have initiated an investigation.”

Pressed further, Rodrigues was asked whether he personally thought lawmakers having any kind of consensual relationships with staff or lobbyists was “problematic.”

“I think we’ve made it clear sexual harassment won’t be tolerated,” he said.

But harassment isn’t “consensual,” he was told. What about consenting adults who, essentially, should know better?

“I don’t think elected officials should be using their position, whether it’s a staff member or a lobbyist, … and that kind of behavior is unacceptable. Period.”

Florida looks at fuel reserves for future storms

Florida could be moving closer to stockpiling fuel for future hurricanes or other disasters.

Sen. Gary Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, filed a proposal (SB 700) Tuesday that would establish a task force within the state Division of Emergency Management to come up with recommendations for a strategic fuel reserve.

The proposal, filed for the 2018 Legislative Session, doesn’t outline costs or how much fuel could be stored for a rainy day, but it would require the recommendations to be completed by April 30, 2019.

“It is our obligation to ensure the safe and timely evacuation of our citizens and guests who are in harm’s way leading up to a natural disaster,” Farmer said in a statement. “In the days prior to Hurricane Irma, it became readily apparent that our fuel supplies could simply not keep up with the demand for gasoline. This created a situation where many Floridians were unable to travel to safety, or to properly prepare for the storm.”

The measure was filed as the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness has included among its charges the exploration of a centralized state gasoline reserve.

“Gas wasn’t readily accessible,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, said Sept. 19, when creating the committee. “Having a committee that looks at why does a state, in the richest country in the world, the third largest (state), why don’t we have a significant gas reserve in the central part of the state so that’s not an issue moving forward for our citizens?”

Select Committee Chairwoman Jeanette Núñez, a Miami Republican, said last week she expects bills to come out in mid-December that could include fuel depots or distribution points.

“I think the onus is on the state to prepare for the worst-case scenarios,” Nunez said Thursday.

Florida strained to keep up with fuel demand as Hurricane Irma neared the state in early September.

As 6.5 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes, others scrambled for last-minute hurricane supplies. Motorists reported spending up to 12 hours on routes that typically are covered in six or seven hours.

The situation grew worse as ports, where fuel is delivered to the state, were closed due to storm winds.

Rushing fuel to South Florida before the storm, the Florida Highway Patrol served as escorts for tanker trucks.

A month later, when Hurricane Nate threatened the Gulf Coast, Gov. Rick Scott acknowledged that Florida was better prepared for Nate than Irma because there weren’t concerns about fuel shortages.

“With regard to Irma it was right after (Hurricane) Harvey, the refineries were shut down, so going into Irma we were low on fuel,” Scott said on Oct. 6. “We were worried that we wouldn’t have enough fuel to make sure everybody could evacuate.”

On Thursday, Scott directed the Florida Department of Transportation to work with other state agencies, Florida ports, law enforcement and fuel retailers to determine how to increase fuel capacity during emergencies.

Scott gave the transportation agency until January to complete its findings.

“Increasing the availability of fuel for evacuations at Florida gas stations is a top priority,” Scott said in a prepared statement.

Joe Henderson: Richard Corcoran swings hammer at gnat

House Speaker Richard Corcoran relishes the image of being a fierce protector of the public purse.

He does more than rail against what he considers frivolous spending of public dollars. He goes all in to stop it, often in a headline-grabbing way designed to let the people know he is their guy.

While that does have a certain air of nobility and the public purse obviously needs a watchdog, it also can lead to actions that hurt the public he says he is trying to protect.

With that in mind, we refer you to the lawsuit he recently filed in the 13th Judicial Circuit Court against the city of Tampa for what he called an “illegal tax” imposed by hotel operators. It’s a $1.50 fee per night on hotel stays, which leaders in the industry say goes to market tourism for the area.

Corcoran’s lawsuit notes that the fee is collected “ … within an illegal district that is governed pursuant to an illegal interlocal agreement. The Speaker asks this Court to put a stop to the City of Tampa’s illegal acts and its ongoing encroachment of state legislative authority.”

We’ll pause here for the latest example of irony, Tallahassee style. This is the equivalent of using a sledgehammer on a gnat.

State lawmakers routinely complain about interference from Washington, especially during the years President Obama was in charge. So why is it OK to butt in when city or county governments try to run their own affairs? This lawsuit is a major butt-in.

Charging hotel customers an extra buck-and-a-half a night certainly is not exorbitant and would seem like a good means to an end for the tourism industry. I can’t imagine anyone planning a trip to Tampa would call it off if they detected that surcharge, but, obviously, that isn’t Corcoran’s point.

Start with that whole “encroachment of state legislative authority” gambit. The Speaker seems to be all for home rule as he is the head of the household. The once-growing Florida film industry found that out when Corcoran used his bully pulpit to kill a state incentives program.

“It is a horrible, horrible use of taxpayers’ dollars, and there is no return on investment,” Corcoran told News4Jax.com.

“And as a person who is finally charged with protecting the taxpayers’ money, I’m not going to waste it by giving it to Hollywood producers. They can go elsewhere if they want to, but the reality is, Florida is Florida.”

No return? That’s debatable. The story cited a study by the University of West Florida that showed there was a return on the state’s investment: $1.44 coming back for every dollar in subsidy. But now filmmakers indeed do go elsewhere and likely will for the foreseeable future. The state of Georgia — which reaped the benefit of Florida’s film flight — thanks you very much.

Corcoran also had a much-publicized showdown with the state tourism industry last year over its budget and spending policies. He argued then for transparency in spending, which is another point he makes in his lawsuit against Tampa.

That would have a lot more bite if he hadn’t joined Gov. Rick Scott and Senate President Joe Negron in a behind-closed-doors meeting last spring to reach an $83 billion (with a B) deal on the state budget.

Corcoran did the public a big service when he used his position to challenge the spending habits of the tourism leaders (much to Gov. Scott’s dismay). No one who gets public money should be above serious scrutiny.

However, this latest legal maneuver can do nothing but hurt Tampa at a time when it is becoming increasingly competitive on a national scale. There is principle, and there is the kind of over-reach from a monolithic government that Tallahassee says it hates.

This lawsuit is the latter. Gnats beware.

Chris King doesn’t lack for confidence

To date, Winter Park affordable housing executive Chris King has been the lone Democrat in the gubernatorial race boasting an entrepreneurial business background.

But that could change later this week if Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine enters the fray.

While Levine has served in public office for the past four years, his entire career before that was in business, where he started up in the cruise industry as a port lecturer before creating a company that ultimately sold for several hundred million dollars.

King doesn’t sound fazed.

“I don’t think anyone’s like me in this space,” the recently turned 39-year-old insisted while speaking with Florida Politics on Saturday afternoon in a conference room at the Disney Coronado Springs hotel, hours before he would join Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham in a candidates’ forum for only the third time this year.

“I’m the only non-politician in this race who hasn’t been part of the political establishment in Florida for decades. I can’t call a former President of the United States. I have not been part of this system (that) really has not been good for people. I am an entrepreneur, but I’m also a lifelong progressive, and somebody’s who really been (a) very strong Democrat.”

That was an undeniable shot at Levine, who is on friendly terms with former President Bill Clinton, and also discussed the possibility of running as an independent earlier this year.

King is proud of his campaign, saying his proposal to offer free community college and trade school for qualifying students he debuted last week is a “game changer.”

He said he wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel in doing it, citing states like Tennessee and New York that also have such programs.

And he says despite the likely criticisms of how could he pay for it, King says Florida definitely can afford it, citing approximately $1 billion in taxes that he says have been cut out of state corporations in the past few years alone.

“It’s not a liberal or progressive idea. It’s not conservative. It’s just basic, good economic sense,” he says.

King announced his candidacy for governor in April and said he’s spent the last six months working hard to prove that he belonged on the same stage as Gillum and Graham.

“I think we’ve proved by all the major metrics, in terms of the money we raised, in terms of the crowds we’ve attracted, the team we’ve built, the excitement we’ve created.”

Now he’s at the second stage, where King says he must prove he’s the man Democrats should nominate for governor when they go to the polls next summer.

If nothing else, King has made the issue of affordable housing front and center in the campaign. He boldly asserts that he not only wants to be “the housing governor” in Florida, but a model for the nation, where the lack of affordable housing is also prevalent.

King has made the GOP-led Legislature’s annual raiding of the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund front and center of his campaign. Those are the funds that come from a locally collected “doc” stamp on real estate sales transactions sent to the state.

Seventy percent of that is sent back via the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) to all 67 counties, based on population, to primarily aid low-to-moderate-income residents in buying a home. The other 30 percent goes to the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL), which the state uses as an incentive for developers to build affordable apartments.

King says that more than $1.7 billion has been cut from the Sadowski funds over the last 15 years, which he calls an attack on seniors, law enforcement, recent college graduates, anyone who wants to make a life here in Florida.

King is president and CEO of Elevation Financial Group, which builds affordable/workforce housing in six states. He says his company provides a private solution to a public policy crisis and says that his decision to run for governor was predicated on the fact that he could do much more to improve the housing situation as governor than he can in the private sector.

“We determined I can work for the rest of my life in the private sector and not have as much impact in housing as one term as governor, simply by winning based on stopping the housing sweeps, (which alone) contributes almost a billion (dollars) in housing investment in first time home buyers, the homeless and the large aging population,” he says.

“None of that is being served well, and we would do it very differently.”

King has often talked about how “back of the pack” Florida is on so many issues, and how it’s time for a Democratic change in Tallahassee to reverse that. While Republicans like Rick Scott, Richard Corcoran and Adam Putnam talk about how Florida’s economy is the envy of the nation, King says he has to refute that without coming across like a doomsayer.

“If Putnam came out and said, ‘I am going to stop sweeping those (affordable housing) funds, it would be incredible,” he says. “But they have gotten more brazen and more bold.

“Just as I argue that the sugar industry has got almost near-total regulatory capture of environmental policy, he takes more and more money,” he added. “As we get into goofier and goofier gun issues, we’re now saying we’re not just for the NRA, we’re a sellout for the NRA, there has been no competition towards the reasonableness, and that’s what I hope I can bring.

“I argue that my victory serving as a Democratic governor will make the Republican party more impactful and effective in Florida, because this is small ball what they’re doing up in Tallahassee, and we’re going to make the whole system work better.”

Scott wants $50M to speed up Lake O dike repairs

Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday that he will ask lawmakers to include $50 million to fast-track repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee in the 2018-19 state budget.

In a Monday press release Scott thanked President Donald Trump for his “commitment to accelerating critical repairs” to the dike but said Trump green-lighting a sped up repair schedule wasn’t enough on its own.

“While this partnership is game-changing, we cannot stop there,” Scott said. “These repairs are a priority and that’s why I’m proposing $50 million in state funding to help expedite the project.”

Scott announced the dike money to a Clewiston crowd including House Speaker Richard Corcoran Monday, and both Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron said they were on board with the plan.

“None of what we announced today would’ve been possible without the heavy lifting and tireless effort of Governor Scott,” Corcoran said. “The fruits of this investment will mean safety and security for the community surrounding the Lake, as well as averting potential environmental dangers. And I’m proud to stand with the governor today and will do all I can to help him hold Washington’s feet to the fire.”

Negron thanked Scott for his “leadership” on the issue and plugged his own signature proposal to expand water storage south of Lake O.

“I look forward to working with him again this session on these important issues to ensure we have an effective state and federal partnership that leads to the elimination of harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee,” he said.

Legislators will consider the proposal when crafting the state budget during the 2018 Legislative Session, which will start in January.

Scott’s environmental budget, released last week, will also include $355 million for Everglades restoration, $50 million for land preservation fund Florida Forever as well as budget bumps for state springs, beaches and parks.

Pasco Superintendent Kurt Browning supporting Ardian Zika in HD 37

Pasco Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning is the latest leading county Republican name to back Ardian Zika‘s candidacy for the House District 37 seat next year.

“Ardian Zika will fight for Florida students in Tallahassee,” Browning said Monday in a statement from the Zika campaign. “With five young children, Ardian knows and understands firsthand the importance of providing a high-quality education for each and every child.”

Browning, who served as Florida secretary of state under Gov. Charlie Crist, also referenced Zika’s service on the Pasco Education Foundation board of directors and Pasco-Hernando State College board of trustees as factors giving him a “deep understanding” of the needs and opportunities in the state’s education system.

The 37-year-old Zika is far and away the GOP establishment’s pick to succeed Richard Corcoran in the Pasco-area House seat next year when the speaker of the House’s term ends due to term limits.

“I am humbled to have received Pasco Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning’s endorsement,” said Zika. “Superintendent Browning’s commitment to ensuring a high-quality education for each and every Pasco student is evident. His commitment to helping Pasco residents achieve their full potential by embracing workforce and vocational education is vital to ensuring economic opportunity for each Pasco family.”

“I am grateful for Superintendent Browning’s service to our community and deeply appreciate his endorsement and support.”

Democrat gubernatorial forum underwhelms

Great theater it was not.

Few significant policy disagreements emerged from a three-way candidate forum at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista that featured former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham again confessing her admiration for her current opponents: Orlando businessman Chris King and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Buoyed by a win in a special election for a state Senate seat last month, Florida Democrats are preparing plans for the critical 2018 election year when they hope to reclaim the governor’s mansion.

The three Democrats aiming to do that did reveal some differences, particularly about their backgrounds, even as they sounded similar on most policy questions.

Take the issue of immigration, for example.

King said he would do everything in his power to help the tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program stay in the country.

“When we hear our governor and our president decry immigrants, refer to them as illegals, a person can’t be an illegal, but they use that terminology to strip away the humanity of our brothers and sisters,” Gillum said.

“I’m the one person here who has voted to keep Dreamers,” Graham boasted.

Such comity will not exist when debating immigration against, say, Adam Putnam.

Hundreds of Democrats watched Gillum, Graham, and King share a disdain for Republican rule, fleshing out programs and policies that they would implement if elected.

Right before the forum, Gillum proposed a series of six more debates (not just forums) between all the candidates before the primaries next August. Next week the field is expected to grow by one when Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine joins the fray, as anticipated.

Orlando attorney and entrepreneur John Morgan created a buzz among delegates when he entered the lobby a half-hour before the debate began. Several Democrats greeted him enthusiastically as he ordered a drink.

Morgan said he’ll decide on entering the race sometime in early 2018.

So back to the three candidates on the stage.

When it came to combating climate change and ripping into the climate deniers in Tallahassee and Washington D.C., the trio sang from the same song sheet.

“We’re sitting here in Disney World, ” said Graham. “Well, Donald Trump and Rick Scott are in fantasyland.”

“We need a governor who believes in science,” said Gillum.

King was effusive about climate change, saying sea level rise presents a “tremendous opportunity for Florida.” He compared the issue to John F. Kennedy’s moonshot, who declared after becoming president that the nation would put a man on the moon.

Finding a way to reduce sea level rise could bring out the best minds from around the country, King said, allowing Florida to become a “research mecca.”

Onstage, Graham exuded warmth and sweetness, telling the 550 people who paid more $250 for a seat at the dinner (with an auxiliary room televising the debate to another 250 or so) that she had a message for the GOP candidates — she’s a hugger.

“But in a second, just like that, it can turn into a headlock — just ask Steve Southerland,” she said, referring to the Republican she vanquished in her only bid for Congress in 2014.

As for King, he distinguished himself by emphasizing affordable housing, which makes sense since that’s what he does for a living.

When asked about the most significant health care issue in the state, Gillium wasn’t specific, only to blame Florida Republicans: “The biggest threat to health care in this state is Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature.”

Gillum also spoke of their refusal to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Graham again called for a public option. Interestingly, she said she would push for that on a state level, saying that she couldn’t wait for Congress to make that change in Washington.

King said he hadn’t given up on the idea that Florida might still expand Medicaid.

One proposal King staked out on his own was a plan for free tuition for community college and trade school education.

Some people expressed concerned that Democrats couldn’t keep up with the Republicans in fundraising — especially a year out from the race; it was a fact spotlighted last week by the Orlando Sentinel.

But, earlier in the day, Jeremy Ring knocked down that notion.

Ring, the only Democrat currently in the CFO race, said that with exceptions of the usual corporations, nobody is really paying attention to the race so far out.

“These articles appear to speak to about six people,” Ring said … perhaps (slightly) underestimating the appetite among political junkies.

“Let’s go to a Miami Dolphins or a Tampa Bay Bucs [game] and ask anyone in the stands whether they read any of these articles. It’s not real.”

Kevin Griffith, vice chair of the Sarasota County Democratic Executive Committee, said: “There’s uncertainty about who is at the head of the pack right now, but we’re at a point where we want new ideas and new blood.”

Earlier in the afternoon, party delegates voted — 860-13 — on 15 policy resolutions, an almost unanimous vote that had Democrats congratulating themselves for expressing near harmony.

Among those votes included a gun-control measure: “The Florida Democratic Party supports policies that regulate semiautomatics and accessories, including but not limited to, all semi-automatic weapons; armor- piercing ammunition; high capacity magazines or clips that can hold more than 10 bullets at a time; and bump stocks or any accessory that simulates the ability of a fully automatic weapon.”

There was an environmental resolution that also thrilled Alan Newell, chair of the Democratic Environmental Caucus.

“I look at the kind of things that have been done environmentally against the people’s interest in the state of Florida for the last seven or eight years … The DEP has been decimated, we can’t mention the words climate change, it’s against the law in Tallahassee, and I think that’s just awful and that shouldn’t people what the peel in the state of Florida should be paying for.”

Proposal would assure governor’s power to name justices

A proposed constitutional amendment would ensure that future governors could appoint new judges and justices up to their last day in office.

But John Stemberger, the member of the Constitution Revision Commission who filed the amendment Thursday, said he was temporarily withdrawing the proposal to correct a drafting error. 

The amendment would make certain that judicial terms end the day before a new governor takes over from a sitting one.

“The proposal should have had an effective date of 2020, well beyond the current legal dilemma that potentially presents itself in January of 2019 when the new Governor is sworn in,” he wrote in an email early Friday.

Attorneys are set to argue a related case against Gov. Rick Scott before the Florida Supreme Court next Wednesday.

“I am not seeking to interfere with the circumstances of legal battles for the judges currently set to retire in 2019, but merely to avoid this miniature constitutional crisis into the future by simply changing the dates so they do not coincide together,” he added.

Progressive groups have challenged Scott’s authority to appoint three new Supreme Court justices on the last day of his term in 2019.

Stemberger, an Orlando attorney and president of the conservative Florida Family Policy Council, aims to “revise the date on which the term of office begins for judicial offices subject to election for retention.”

The amendment aims “to avoid the ambiguity and litigation that may result by having the terms of judicial officers and the Governor end and begin on the same day.”

It would change the start and end dates of judicial terms from “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January” following the general election, to “the first Monday in January.” 

The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF) and Common Cause sued Scott this summer. They seek a “writ of quo warranto,” a court action against government officials to demand they prove their authority to perform a certain action.

Liza McClenaghan, state chair of Common Cause of Florida, said Stemberger’s amendment “thwarts the will of the people and makes government less accountable.” Oral argument in their action is set for next Wednesday morning.

The age-required retirements of three justices—R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy A. Quince—occasioned the suit. They are considered the more liberal-leaning contingent of the high court. 

Scott, a Naples Republican, has said he plans to name their replacements the morning of his last day in office—Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019.

His attorneys have argued that the justices’ age-mandated retirements also will become effective that Jan. 8.

The League and Common Cause counter that Scott can’t replace those justices because he’ll be out of office earlier on the same day they retire, and their terms last till midnight.

If the commission eventually decides to place Stemberger’s amendment on the 2018 statewide ballot, it still would have to be approved by 60 percent of voters to be added to the state constitution.

The 37-member board is convened every 20 years to review and suggest changes to the state’s governing document. Stemberger was named to the panel by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican.

House wants to clamp down on ‘trade secrets’

House Speaker Richard Corcoran has opened the next front in his personal war for transparency, moving legislation that would bar companies seeking to do business with the state from hiding information behind claims of “trade secrets.”

A pair of bills (HB 459, HB 461) was filed Thursday by Rep. Ralph Massullo, a Republican representing Citrus and Hernando counties. The bills together redefine “trade secrets” and claim to broaden access to Florida’s public records.

One provides for public financial information to include “money paid, any payment structure or plan, expenditures, incentives, fees, or penalties,” and the other brings changes to Florida’s public records law, including a detailed legal process for obtaining public records that are classified as trade secrets by enabling circuit courts to decide what gets disclosed.

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican known for battling Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA, along with state Rep. Matt Caldwell, a Fort Myers Republican, debuted the bills during a press conference.

Caldwell said one of the bills would repeal roughly 75 “variant” definitions of the term “trade secret,” while the other clarifies the term as “essentially, the things that we all classically understand as trade secrets – the formula for Coca-Cola (and) the recipe for KFC chicken.” 

VISIT FLORIDA, other tourism agencies and vendors have argued that their deals are trade secrets. The legislation would make trade secrets not include contracts between public and private entities, making the agencies’ defense impotent.

If passed, the laws would be a big win in Corcoran’s prolific battle against state agencies.

He publicly criticized VISIT FLORIDA last year for spending $1.25 million to sponsor a London soccer club and giving $1 million to rapper Pitbull to promote the state on social media.

During the 2017 Legislative Session, Corcoran went as far as proposing to shut down VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida, the state’s jobs incentives and economic development agency.

In August, Corcoran sent a letter to 12 tourism agencies demanding more transparency and accountability in the use of taxpayer dollars. He reiterated this ideological sentiment during the press conference.

“Our impetus was, if you spend one dollar of taxpayer money—one dollar—then you don’t have a ‘trade secret,’ ” Corcoran told reporters.

Robert Skrob, executive director of the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, a collective voice for the state’s tourism agencies, said the bills would only add more “bureaucracy and redundancy,” and that the “current structure is working.”

He instead proposed more dialogue between his association and lawmakers: “If there are ways to further strengthen accountability, we welcome the opportunity,” he said, mentioning “the 1.4 million Floridians whose livelihoods depend on tourism.”

That approach could be a non-starter with Corcoran, whose new website includes the slogan: “Less talk. More action.”

Richard Corcoran rejects using reserves to balance budget

With the state facing a likely budget shortfall and costs from Hurricane Irma, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, made clear Thursday he opposes dipping into reserves to balance the 2018-2019 budget.

“We are and have gone out, campaigned, knocked on doors and told people that we’re committed conservatives,” Corcoran said during a news conference at the Capitol.

He said the state’s current level of reserves is a “minimum number” and is not something the House would support tapping. He said dipping into reserves for non-emergency situations could affect the state’s bond rating, which could increase borrowing costs.

“Nothing out there warrants us going into those reserves,” he said. “What we’re really talking about is, `Can I have my pork-barrel projects and get it from reserves’ and pay from those reserves for Irma” expenses.

Gov. Rick Scott is expected to propose a budget in the coming weeks, with the House and Senate negotiating a final spending plan during the Session that starts in January.

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