Florida leaders announce special session to hash out budget compromise

Alejandro Massey
June 4, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott (left), Senate President Joe Negron (top) and House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

The governor will get his main priority: funding for economic incentives and tourism promotion.

“I dont think we should be spending what NY is spending or California, and I dont think we should be offering $100 million (incentive deals) or whatever people do.

The Legislature will address budget issues in a grand bargain largely struck between Scott and Corcoran, according to several sources familiar with negotiations.

Corcoran pushed to abolish Enterprise Florida and eventually settled on eliminating funding for the agency, leaving Scott - who bills himself as the "jobs governor" - incensed.

In the case of the $854,677 that was slated to go to the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens as part of a partnership with Seminole County to build a teaching facility to serve middle and high schools and colleges, Scott said there was no return from the construction of a facility that isn't owned by the state.

Visit Florida will see its funding restored to the current level of $76 million, Scott said, with measures to "increase accountability and transparency" at the agency, which saw its funding drastically cut in the original budget approved by the Legislature last month.

In return, Scott will sign a controversial education bill that includes $419 million in funding for teacher pay bonuses and Schools of Hope, a charter school program in which charters are given incentives to open near failing traditional public schools.

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The special session, which could cost as much as $72,000 a day, will begin Wednesday.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is vetoing $410 million in projects from the new state budget.

- LINE BY LINE: As he has done with the six prior annual appropriations bills, Scott can use his line-item veto power to reject individual projects and spending items.

In announcing the deal, Scott and Corcoran finally ended their intense war of words over incentives.

Scott toured the state criticizing the spending cuts.

Corcoran, who had railed against economic development spending as "corporate welfare", insisted there has been a "meeting of minds" because the state will no longer offer money directly to one business. But on Friday Scott was complimentary.

"People are going to be outraged by this", said Pollara, the executive director of Florida for Care, an organization backed by the medical marijuana industry.

- THE NUCLEAR OPTION: Scott could veto the entire $82.4 billion bill and call lawmakers back into a special session to pass a new budget. "I think the Senate's track record in supporting the governor's priorities speaks for itself". Striking a deal allowed them to avoid a messy, protracted fight and have something to campaign on.

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