House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron took the opportunity to crow a little upon the conclusion of the 2017 Legislative Session.
Even if it did run over a little.
The two held a joint news conference in the Capitol Rotunda following sine die to brag on what the Legislature had accomplished.
“For 20 years, people talked about, studied, went to meetings, had consortiums and collaborations about doing something for southern storage with Lake Okeechobee to stop the billions of gallons of discharges that destroyed the coasts both east and west of Lake Okeechobee,” Negron said.
“History will record that this Legislature not only acted, but we funded, to have southern storage so that we can stop and then ultimately completely get rid of all the discharges that some from Lake Okeechobee.”
He also praised approval of his call to invest almost $600 million in additional funding for the state universities, including scholarships and assistance with textbook costs.
For his part, Corcoran had set out to shake up the way Tallahassee does business. He felt he’d succeeded.
“We set out to have a very bold, transformative agenda,” Corcoran said. “There’s no question that what we accomplished was bold, transformative, and life-changing for Floridians.”
The House and Senate had just sent an $82.4 billion state budget to Gov. Rick Scott. Negron reckoned it contained much for the governor to love — including the higher education and public school spending — even though it largely stiffs Scott on his treasured economic incentive programs.
“I see the budget as sharing principles with the governor. I think it’s our job over the next couple of weeks to make our case,” Negron said.
“I agree,” Corcoran added.
The Senate debate Monday occasioned predictions that one Corcoran priority — the Schools of Hope plan to recruit out-of-state charter operators to serve struggling communities — was so flawed technically that it would require almost immediate revision.
Corcoran took the criticism in stride.
“Anytime you do that kind of transformative legislation … there’s always going to be things that you might want to come back and tweak and make better. We’d always be open to that,” he said.
Of the budget, Corcoran said: “My encouragement to the governor is go veto all the pork he possibly can.”
The House K-12 package he called “the greatest … in the history of the state.”
It “does more to transform kids’ lives, free up teachers, free up the administration, to go out there and educate our youth,” Corcoran said.