MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) — Florida Governor Rick Scott, joined by Florida Senate Joe Negron and Florida House of Representatives Richard Corcoran called for a special session next week after reviewing Florida’s $82.4 billion budget.
The press conference, held at Miami International Airport (MIA), comes days after legislative leaders sent the governor the spending plan – something Scott said he was reviewing “line by line.”
The special session, to be held from June 7th to the 9th, will focus on increasing K-12 funding to $100 per student, establishing a job growth grant fund with $85 million, and increasing transparency and funding for Visit Florida to $76 million.
The Republican governor remains angered over the Legislature’s decision to slash spending for economic development and tourism incentives, as well as rejecting his call for $200 million to repair the Herbert Hoover dike around Lake Okeechobee.
One certainty is that a new budget must be in place by the July 1st start of the fiscal year or Florida will face some type of a government shutdown, with agencies, ranging from schools to prisons, being forced to operate on an emergency basis.
With the 451-page appropriations bill (SB 2500) delivered to Scott at 12:09 p.m. on Wednesday, the governor had 15 days to act on the legislation.
The budget outcome is complicated by a series of related bills. Part of the mix includes a key education policy bill (HB 7069) that includes $419 million in charter-school incentives and pay bonuses for teachers and principals but is opposed by major education groups.
When asked about the bill on Friday, the governor said they were reviewing the bill.
“I am going to work to make sure that whatever we do is good for all students,” said Scott.
He went on, “I’m going to focus on what I believe is good for every student in the state. I know the importance of education I have grandchildren that live in the state and I care about their education and I care about every students education. I’m still reviewing 7069 but I believe we have a pathway that every student in the state is going to be a better student.”
Governor Scott said he would release a list of vetos later in the day. The governor had threatened to veto the entire budget; however, he said Friday he’d veto individual spending items including portions of the controversial Florida Educational Finance Program that education advocates want vetoed entirely, saying it takes money out of public schools.
Scott has clearly outlined his priorities. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, wants the bill with charter schools (HB 7069) to become law while still opposing economic incentives and supporting a reduced tourism-promotion budget. Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, wants to defend his state university initiatives in the budget as well as a related policy bill (SB 374).
Legislative leaders had said before they would use a special session on the budget to try to resolve an impasse over legislation enacting the November constitutional amendment on medical marijuana.
On the issue of medical marijuana, the speaker of the Florida House has promised they will address it in their special session.
“Obviously 71% of the voters have called for something. There should be no reason why we can’t reach agreements and get that done and so my hope is that it will be added to the call, said Corcoran.
(The News Service of Florida’s Lloyd Dunkelberger and Dara Kam contributed to this report.)