Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday suggested, with as much subtext as he could muster, that lawmakers need to come around on his two main budget goals for 2016-17: $1 billion in tax cuts and $25o million for business incentives.
After all, legislative leadership passed their priority bills early on, which Scott happily signed.
The message was clear: You got yours, I want mine.
“We’ve had a very good Session. It’s all going to be successful,” Scott told reporters after a bill signing in his office.
“We started with the water bill that the Speaker of the House wanted, we started with the Gardiner Scholarship bill for those with unique abilities (named after Senate President Andy Gardiner), those have already been signed,” he said.
“Everyone knows my priorities,” Scott added. “All of them are tied to getting more jobs in our state. The tax cut is important … along with the $250 million for (the Florida Enterprise Fund).
“I believe we’re going to have a good end to Session. And there’s plenty of money in the budget.”
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, in separate comments to reporters, basically said Scott was overspending and asking for too much.
“I’ve said it, the president has said it, even the governor has said it: There has to be compromise on all sides,” he said. “That’s the only way to bring those numbers within a threshold we can obtain.”
As of Wednesday night, House budget chief Richard Corcoran and Senate budget chairman Tom Lee had not announced agreement on allocations, the silos of money for each major part of the state budget.
“We know the governor is very focused on his message,” Crisafulli said. “He’s fighting for as much as he can get, but there’s a reality in all this … Nobody gets everything they want.”
Added Gardiner: “It’s give and take … everybody’s going to have give and take if we want to go home on time.”
The session ends March 11, but the budget has to be finished before then because of a 72-hour “cooling off” period mandated by law, giving lawmakers and the public time to inspect the details.
“He’s going to have vetoes; he’s probably going to have a lot of vetoes,” Gardiner said of Scott after a Wednesday Senate floor session. “If we all sat out and had a big group hug, he’d still have a lot of vetoes … I’m trying to put together what I think is a responsible budget.”
Jim Rosica (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers the Florida Legislature, state agencies and courts from Tallahassee.