Steve Crisafulli Archives - Page 7 of 35 - Florida Politics

Steve Crisafulli says no budget conference yet

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Thursday said the budget conference process won’t begin just yet.

The Merritt Island Republican announced the news to members of this chamber in an email:

From: Crisafulli, Steve
Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2016 9:16 AM
Subject: Conference will not begin this weekend


There is positive forward progress in the effort to reach an agreement on budget allocations with the Senate. However, there is still a great deal to be worked out. Therefore, we will not begin conference this weekend. It is my hope that we will begin conference early next week.

I hope you enjoy your weekend.

We’ll have more on the budget as it develops. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m.

Orlando’s theme park companies pour at least $2.77 million into state politics

Orlando’s theme park behemoths – mostly Walt Disney companies – have already poured $2.77 million into campaign and political committees and parties for this election cycle so far, preferring Republicans by almost 3 to 1 over Democrats.

Disney, as usual, leads the way, with a combination of cash and in-kind services (typically providing tickets or opening theme parks or other Disney facilities to party events) worth $2.4 million in political contributions, according to campaign finance reports through Jan. 31, filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Various Disney entities have poured in almost $1.5 million to the Republican Party of Florida, Republican candidates and Republican political action committees, according to the reports. Disney gave Democrats $560,000, and contributed another $339,000 to nonpartisan political action committees.

Various companies affiliated with Universal Parks & Resorts donated $247,000 to Republicans, $43,000 to Democrats, and $41,000 to nonpartisan PACs.

SeaWorld companies were frugal compared with its Orlando theme park counterparts, providing $23,000 to Republicans, $7,500 to Democrats and $7,600 to nonpartisan groups. All SeaWorld donations were in cash.

Busch Gardens in Tampa provided almost no political contributions. examined reports listed for the entire election cycle. For state Senate campaigns, that dates back to the start of 2013. For all others, the contributions date from the beginning of 2015.

The theme park companies use various corporate entities to sponsor political contributions. For example, Disney contributions come from such varied companies as Disney Worldwide Services Inc., Walt Disney Parks & Resorts U.S. Inc., Walt Disney Travel Co., Disney Destinations LLC, and Disney Vacation Development Inc. among others.

Most of Disney’s contributions to Democrats came through in-kind donations, providing services worth $370,000 total to the Florida Democratic Party, covering five different occasions.

Disney also provided in-kind services to Gov. Rick Scott‘s Let’s Get To Work PAC, valued at $252,000, and to the Republican Party of Florida, worth $155,000.

Disney’s total contributions to the Republican Party of Florida have totaled $544,000, and to the Florida Democratic Party, $467,000.

Disney also gave $125,000 to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s PAC Florida Grown PC; $75,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee led by state Senate President Andy Gardiner; $70,000 to state Sen. Bill Galvano‘s PAC Innovate Florida; state Sen. Wilton Simpson‘s PAC Jobs for Florida $55,000; and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli‘s PAC Growing a Sustainable Future, $37,000. Disney gave at least $10,000 to seven other PACs associated with Republican state office holders. Two Democrats’ PACs also got money: State Rep. Jared Moskowitz‘s Floridians for Practical Solutions got $10,000, and state Sen. Darren Soto‘s Sun PAC got $5,000.

Universal companies contributed $147,000 to the RPOF, $49,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and $32,000 to the Florida Democratic Party. State Sen. Jack Latvala‘s Florida Leadership Committee got $7,500, as the only lawmaker’s PAC to get at least $5,000.

SeaWorld gave $5,000 each to the Florida Democratic Party, the Republican Party of Florida and the FRP PAC, and $2,500 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. Its other political contributions were all of $1,000 or less.

Legislature divided over budget, tax cuts

Separated by nearly $1 billion in spending and differences over everything from tax cuts to health care spending, the Florida Legislature has less than a month left in its regular session to reach a deal on a new state budget.

Although Republican legislators stress they won’t have a repeat of infighting that marred their negotiations last year, they conceded that it will require some major compromises to end the session by March 11.

The final decision on the state budget could wind up affecting everything from how much money teachers get in the coming year to whether the state has a back-to-school sales tax holiday this summer.

“Now is the time where the pressure points, the decision points, are here,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner, an Orlando Republican. “There are going to be some tough decisions. There will be stuff that won’t make it.”

Last year GOP legislators split over Medicaid expansion and wound up passing a budget just days before a potential state government shutdown.

Both the House and Senate on Thursday passed their rival spending plans. The Senate budget totals nearly $81 billion, while the House version is just under $80 billion.

And though portions of both budgets are aligned, fault lines exist on school spending, economic development and tax cuts. Both sides also have refused to endorse key parts of Gov. Rick Scott‘s budget recommendations, which could complicate a final resolution.

The House has pared its budget with a tax cut package that includes a 10-day back-to-school tax holiday and single-day tax holidays for the purchases of guns, computers and cellphones.

But the biggest part of the package is a cut in the tax charged on rent paid by businesses. The package totals about $350 million in the coming year, but the price tag grows to nearly $1 billion over the next two-and-a-half years.

Senate Republicans, however, remain wary of deep tax cuts, citing a volatile stock market and a softening national economy that could affect the state’s tourism industry.

Sen. Tom Lee, the Senate budget chairman, said it would be “fiscally irresponsible” to pass a $1 billion tax cut package as Scott has proposed. He said to do so could force legislators to enact tax hikes in two to three years.

Senate leaders are also floating an idea that instead of passing business-targeted tax cuts they put more state money into public schools. That would allow local school districts to slightly trim property taxes they charge.

Another key difference: The Senate has set aside $250 million for a fund that Scott wants to use to lure new businesses to the state. The House has refused so far to agree to any amount. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said he wants an agreement first on how the money will be parceled out.

Scott, talking to reporters Thursday, contended that he would wind up getting his priorities passed.

“I’m very comfortable we are going to have a good end,” Scott said.

The Senate and House votes came after two days of questioning, amendments and sometimes harsh debate. Though the Senate passed its budget by a 40-0 vote, the House vote was 85-29, with many Democrats voting against the bill.

Democrats were sharply critical of a provision included in the House budget that would prohibit health care providers from using state money to contract with Planned Parenthood to provide services. They also faulted the budget for failing to eliminate waiting lists for state services and for failing to include a pay raise for state workers.

“It doesn’t go far enough to actually have an impact on working and middle class families,” said Rep. Edwin Narain, a Tampa Democrat.

Republican committees post 6-figure hauls in first days of 2016

Lawmakers could only raise money for the first 11 days of the year, but that didn’t stop some of the top Republicans in Legislature the posting six-figure hauls to start the year.

Campaign and committee finance reports aren’t due until Wednesday, though Sen. Bill Galvano’s political committee, Innovate Florida, leads early filers after posting $216,000 raised in January. That haul came across in just 31 contributions, including three checks for $25,000 from the Florida Medical Association PAC, optometry group OD-EYEPAC, and Costa Farms.

After $19,000 in January expenditures, the Bradenton Republican’s committee was left with about $1.23 million in the bank.

Brandon Sen. Tom Lee came in just behind Galvano with $212,700 in January contributions to his committee, The Conservative. His total included five $25,000 checks, with MCNA Health Care and multibillionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones each contributing at that level alongside FMA. Costa Farms also made the list with a $10,000 check.

Expenditures were minor for the truncated fundraising period, leaving the former Senate President’s committee with nearly $2 million on-hand.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli leads in the other chamber, with $136,000 in committee money last month. His PAC, Growing Florida’s Future, got $25,000 checks from an Associated Industries of Florida committee and from the FMA to bring its total to more than $600,000 on-hand.

Not far behind Crisafulli is the presumptive 2018-20 House Speaker, Rep. Jose Oliva, who raised $135,500 for his Conservative Principles for Florida PAC. Florida Blue topped the donor list at $35,000, followed by Tampa-based real estate company American Investment Holdings, which gave $25,000. Oliva’s committee entered February with about $541,000 on hand.

Jeb Bush supporters take aim at Marco Rubio in full page ad

Eight former and current Republican House Speakers are urging New Hampshire residents to vote for Jeb Bush on Election Day.

The open letter to New Hampshire voters ran in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Wednesday. Politico reported that the advertisement is meant to highlight the number of Florida leaders backing Bush over Marco Rubio.

“While Senator Rubio is a tremendous political talent, he is not the best choice to serve as Commander-in-Chief. We like and admire Marco, but as individuals who have personally witnessed the leadership of both candidates, we are unequivocal in our belief that Governor Bush is the best choice to be our next president,” the speakers write.

“Jeb has been tested and is ready to lead our country in these challenging times. We are not alone in making this assessment. Nearly every political leader in Florida of stature who knows Marco and Jeb’s records have joined us in endorsing Governor Bush.”

The advertisement, paid for by the Bush campaign, is signed by Allan Bense, Dean Cannon, Larry Cretul, Steve Crisafulli, Tom Feeney, John Thrasher, and Will Weatherford.

Former Speaker Johnnie Byrd is not listed as a co-signer.

Also missing? Rubio, who was House Speaker from 2006 to 2008.

In the open letter to voters, the speakers tout Bush’s leadership qualities, calling him a “transformational governor who took on and beat the most powerful special interests in Florida.” The speakers point to $19 billion in tax cuts, 1.3 million new jobs and gains in student achievement as some of Bush’s successes during his time in office.

“Jeb Bush is a strong leader with a steady hand who will rebuild our military, destroy ISIS and grow the American economy at full strength so middle class families can receive a pay raise for the first time in 15 years,” the speakers write.

“Take it from the people who know Marco and Jeb best: Governor Bush is the leader we need to make America safer, stronger and freer.”

The ad was paid for by the Bush campaign. The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday.


Cocoa Democrat joins HD 51 race

House District 51 got its first Democratic candidate this past week, setting up an Election Day contest for the Brevard County seat held by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, leaving because of term limits.

Cocoa City Councilman Michael Blake joins Republican Cocoa Beach Commissioner Tim Timulty, who filed for the seat this past February, and HD 50 Rep. Tom Goodson, who’s looking to shift districts.

The former Cocoa mayor will likely have a hard time gaining traction in the district because it tilts heavily toward the GOP.  The Republican Party carries a sizable enough advantage in voter registrations that it isn’t likely to sway too much even in a presidential election year.

Crisafulli cruised into his third term without opposition when the seat was redrawn in 2012, and followed that performance by taking 67 percent of the vote against Democrat Joe Murray in the 2014 election.

Goodson shouldn’t have much of a problem in the Republican primary or the general election. In addition to sporting Crisafulli’s endorsement, the third-term representative passed $100,000 in cash on-hand heading into the new year.

Timulty is hovering at about the $1,500 mark, including $2,000 in loans.

Senate budget eliminates direct funding for youth mentoring

State Sen. Joe Negron, a former budget panel chief, told his colleagues last month in an acceptance speech for his upcoming Senate presidency that the state must do more for its troubled children and teens.

“We should not and we will not tolerate serious wrongdoing by young people but, at the same time, let’s not criminalize adolescence,” he said, according to the Senate Journal’s version.

Most experts agree that after-school mentoring programs, such as those offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters, are effective at helping kids, especially those at risk, to succeed in school and develop social skills.

But the Florida Senate, in its proposed $80.9 billion budget for next year, seemingly has gone to a “dog-eat-dog” approach, telling the state’s mentoring programs that to get funding, they’ll have to fight for it among themselves.

The Senate budget, released Friday afternoon, essentially zeroes out funding for individual providers and instead creates a $30 million “competitive grants” program where organizations will have to apply.

Under the Senate plan, money will be awarded by a committee of members appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Andy Gardiner, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, and could include Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and other top officials.

State Sen. Don Gaetz, the Niceville Republican who chairs the Education Appropriations Subcommittee, was unavailable for an interview, his assistant said.

Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta provided a statement from Gaetz: “The grant process is designed so worthy groups can be funded on the basis of their value to children and their results. Our committee is recommending more money in this fund than the total funded for these purposes in the past. (It is) a fairer process based on evaluation of results, not dependent on lobbyists, and (provides) more money for these worthy causes.”

In a Tuesday hearing, Gaetz warned the nonprofits that before they issue calls to “go to the Capitol and burn the place down,” they should realize their funding won’t be “on a line-item basis (but) they’re not being cut.”

When state Sen. Jeremy Ring, a Margate Democrat, questioned the overall education spending plan, Gaetz told him, “The concrete is poured, and it’s hardening … Everything is a zero-sum game.”

Representatives of the state’s nonprofit children organizations say they’re flabbergasted — and feeling betrayed.

“We’ve been getting funding from the Legislature for 19 years,” said Daniel Lyons, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs. “We did everything we were asked to do, so this came out of nowhere.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs mentor about 6,000 children in over 200 facilities throughout the state.

Lyons said converting funding into grants for which each group will have to apply means organizations like his won’t get paid, if at all, until well after the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

“Talk about being bowled over and slapped in the face,” he said.

Jody Clifford, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Florida, said she didn’t immediately know how many youths are in her mentoring programs “but it’s a huge number.”

Having to compete and wait for funding “could have a huge negative impact on the already low-performing children we help,” she said. “We’re absolutely stunned.”

On the other hand, the House proposed budget, also released Friday, keeps a method of direct funding to specific groups with a $14.8 million pot of money.

From it, $2.2 million is slated for Big Brothers Big Sisters, $3 million goes to the Florida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, and $6.2 million is for Take Stock in Children, a nonprofit led by Jillian Hasner, wife of former state Rep. Adam Hasner, the House Republican Leader in 2008-10.

Money for mentoring has been decreasing in recent years’ state budgets, going from $30.5 million in fiscal year 2014-15 to $18.4 million for 2015-16.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify that Senator Gaetz’s “concrete” quote was in response to a question from Senator Ring. It also includes an updated comment on the Senate spending plan from Gaetz.

Brian Pitts suing Rick Scott, lawmakers over “invalid” state budget

Perennial gadfly and Capitol fixture Brian Pitts is suing Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for “preliminary and perpetual relief” from what he calls an “invalid” state budget for this year.

Pitts, a trustee of his St. Petersburg-based Justice-2-Jesus church group, filed a 30-page complaint in Leon Circuit Civil Court last week, according to court records. The suit also names House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Senate President Andy Gardiner, and Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

He’s well known to observers of The Process, often speaking at committee hearings where he hectors lawmakers for what he considers flawed legislation. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In the sometimes rambling document, mystifyingly laid out in landscape format, Pitts said the 2015-16 state budget, passed in a Special Session last year, is both “unlawful and unconstitutional.”

Pitts laid out a laundry list of offenses bolstering his argument, including a lack of itemizations and improperly defined line-items, though Pitts acknowledges “there are just too many (deficiencies) to number.”

Surprisingly for a plaintiff in a court action, Pitts seemingly apologizes for having to file suit.

“Plaintiff, truly, has learned to love … each unique and highly esteemed member of the Florida Legislature, but they cannot continue in their pattern of unbridle(d) discretion or abuse,” he wrote. “To be honest, in all sincerity, plaintiff never thought he would ever be filing such a massive relief application” but his “conscience will not allow ignoring this any longer.”

The case was assigned to Circuit Judge George Reynolds III, who recently presided over the state Senate redistricting challenge, finding for the League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs, resulting in a redrawn district map.

Pitts also filed to pursue his action under indigent status, asking to be relieved of usual court costs. He seeks unspecified damages, costs and attorney fees; he filed the case “pro se,” meaning he is acting as his own attorney.

In 2003, Pitts spent nearly four months in the Pinellas County jail on a charge of practicing law without a license, which he said was a wrongful arrest. Claim bills have been subsequently filed in Tallahassee seeking to reimburse Pitts up to $350,000, records show.

Capitol Reax: Rick Scott signs priority legislation; court clerks highlight talk funding needs; fracking bill heads to House floor

Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday signed several pieces of legislation deemed a priority for Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli.

One measure (SB 672) expand the personal learning scholarship account program and the Florida postsecondary comprehensive transition program for students with intellectual disabilities. It also renames the scholarship program to the Gardiner Scholarship Program, after the Gardiner family. A second (HB 7003) expands employment opportunities to people with disabilities

Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future, said:

“It wasn’t all that long ago when students with disabilities were shunned in classrooms, their needs ignored, and their abilities dismissed. The world has changed much since then, and that change came about because of the tireless advocacy of parents who refused to accept less for their children. Every time I see a child with unique abilities, behind him or her I see a parent with unique passion and commitment.

“It was the passion of these parents who drove such rapid passage of the Gardiner Scholarship Program, chief among them a father named Andy Gardiner. Thanks to this legislation signed by Governor Rick Scott, parents can transition from advocates to activists, empowered with the freedom and resources to create pathways for their children’s success. And rest assured, this blessing bestowed on Florida families will spread to other states as well.

“We thank Governor Scott, President Gardiner, Senator Don Gaetz, and Representative Erik Fresen for their support of this important legislation.”

The governor also signed a comprehensive water policy package (SB 552), a top priority for Crisafulli.

Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, said:

“Florida has taken a monumental leap forward in addressing our water quality and quantity challenges by enacting this comprehensive water policy reform. Today’s bill signing is the culmination of many years of hard work and compromise from the business and environmental communities to develop a necessary water policy that will serve our state well in the coming decades. The result of these efforts was a bipartisan bill supported overwhelmingly by the Florida Legislature. On behalf of the Associated Industries of Florida and the H2O Coalition, we thank Governor Scott for signing this bill into law and for his commitment to creating a sustainable strategy that preserves and protects Florida’s most precious natural resource.”

Butch Calhoun, director of government relations at Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, said:

“On behalf of Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, our growers applaud Governor Scott for approving this landmark water bill, which takes a long-term, comprehensive approach to water management and the protection of our natural resources. Our growers are stewards of the land we serve and we understand the importance of having access to an abundant water supply. By adopting this legislation, Governor Scott and the Legislature have ensured the practices employed by our growers are aligned to help our state find science-based, economically feasible solutions to water quality and quantity issues which work to protect Florida’s unique and diverse ecosystems.”

Barbara Miedema, vice president for public affairs and communications at Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, said:

“We applaud Governor Scott for his quick action in signing this most important piece of legislation. The bipartisan work of the Legislature represents the most comprehensive rewrite of Florida water law since the 1970s. It signals that the process is working in Tallahassee and things are getting done for the benefit of all Floridians.”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said:

“In a state as diverse as Florida, water is our common identity. I thank Governor Scott for signing this water policy legislation that will protect the quality and quantity of our water for future generations.

“Florida is the third largest state in the country and our growth rate recently surpassed that of California. Just as every person needs water, so too does every sector of our economy. In order to accommodate our explosive growth and ensure that our state, residents and visitors thrive, we need this long-term, science-based and comprehensive approach to water policy. This legislation will help provide the resources to meet the needs of our growing population, while protecting our environment.

“This water policy legislation has been in the works for years, and I thank Speaker Steve Crisafulli, President Andy Gardiner, Senator Charlie Dean, Chairman Matt Caldwell, Senator David Simmons and the countless others who worked together on this comprehensive water policy.”

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The Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers on Wednesday outlined a need for a funding boost during the Senate appropriations subcommittee on criminal and civil justice. The group said a report found the state’s clerks have been confronted with a diminished budget because of a reduction of new cases filed. The report also showed that although the case filings decrease, the workload for the clerks has increased.

Karen Rushing, Sarasota Clerk of Court and legislative chairwoman of Florida’s Court Clerks & Comptrollers, said:

“We thank the committee for allowing us to demonstrate the financial burden that this deficit has placed on our operations statewide. This study concluded that due to revenue reductions, combined with increased costs, Florida’s Clerks are significantly understaffed to continue to perform the court-related duties of the office at the levels required by statute and expected by our judicial partners and public we serve.

“Year after year, this deficit has continued to force layoffs and branch office closures, and has been detrimental to the quality and timeliness of our services on a statewide level. We ask the Florida Legislature and Governor to support the funding for the current year deficit, as well as enact a long-term solution to the Clerk funding process. These short- and long-term funding solutions will allow our offices across the Sunshine State to avoid future deficits and continue to operate efficiently on a daily basis for the people of Florida.”

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A bill aimed at regulating hydraulic fracturing is heading to the House floor, after it passed the House state affairs committee on Wednesday. The measure (HB 191) is sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, an Estero Republican.

Brewster Bevis, senior vice president of state and federal affairs for Associated Industries of Florida, said:

“Representative Rodrigues, who is unparalleled in his knowledge and commitment to properly regulating the onshore oil and gas industry, has worked in good faith with all third parties to produce sound legislation that, we feel, strikes the appropriate balance to protect and preserve Florida’s environment, while also allowing a responsible industry to continue to explore and produce oil and gas here in the Sunshine State.

“We do continue to have reservations about the inclusion of a study, as this industry has been a responsible producer of oil and gas for more than seven decades, which has led to jobs, diversification of our energy portfolio and a reduced reliance on foreign sources of energy; but, overall, we believe this good bill will bring needed regulatory clarity to this industry.

We thank Representative Rodrigues, as well as members of the House State Affairs Committee for carefully considering and passing this legislation today.”

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The Florida Property & Casualty Association commended Citizens Insurance for its depopulation efforts.

William Stander, executive director of the Florida Property & Casualty Association, said:

“Citizens was created to make home insurance available in Florida’s hurricane-prone regions after the national companies retreated from writing home insurance in the state. Citizens was designed to be the insurance company of last resort, but quickly grew out of control.

“Since then, our state’s insurance market has become much healthier, more competitive and homegrown with 67 Florida-based companies writing 72 percent of all homes. Much of the credit can be given to these entrepreneurs and Commissioner (Kevin) McCarty for encouraging the depopulation efforts and formation of new, financially secure Florida-based insurance companies.”

Rick Scott on Seminole Compact: “I did my job”

Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday continued to sound lukewarm on the prospects of his renegotiated deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would let them keep blackjack at their casinos.

Scott took questions after an afternoon bill-signing ceremony with House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner.

“Well, I did my job. We took the time; we have a good Compact … but I respect the leadership of the House, President Gardiner. Now it’s up to them; they’ll decide how we go forward with this,” he said.

Jeff Woodburn, Scott’s policy director, fielded a series of tough questions about the Seminole Compact at a Senate Regulated Industries Committee meeting Wednesday. The House has yet to hold a hearing.

It’s unclear at best whether the Legislature will approve the deal this session; committee Chairman Rob Bradley said changes to the Compact would likely be offered and considered “one by one.” It also has to be OK’d by federal Indian gambling regulators.

The deal would continue to allow blackjack exclusively in tribal casinos, including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, in return for a $3 billion cut of the take over seven years.

But it would also let the Seminoles add craps and roulette tables, as well as permit the Legislature to OK slot machines at the Palm Beach Kennel Club and allow blackjack at certain South Florida racetracks. That has critics, including gambling opponents in the Legislature, down on the deal.

When asked whether he would lobby lawmakers for votes, Scott repeated, “I did my job (to get) a negotiated Compact. That’s the way it was supposed to work. It’s up to them. I respect whatever decision they make.”

Scott also didn’t bite at a question about whether he needs revenue from the Compact to ensure he gets his $1 billion tax cut package, his signature proposal for this year.

“Revenues are growing … I’m confident we’re going to see a billion dollars in tax cuts,” he said.

“The money is there?” he was asked. “Absolutely,” Scott said.

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