Backroom Wheeling and Dealing Produce Florida Budget-Stave Off Missed Deadline

A laundry list of disagreements between Gov. Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers has apparently been ironed out, with a deal that will have Scott signing next year’s state budget, with a caveat that lawmakers return for a special session next week to make changes he wants.

The complex deal struck behind closed doors between the governor and top leaders in both houses basically has Scott line-item vetoing about $400 million in projects. Lawmakers will then come back next week for a special session, where they will vote to apply that vetoed money to programs that Scott has a particular interest in.

Scott had threatened to veto the entire $84 billion dollar spending plan when lawmakers gutted the state’s tourism procurement agency, Visit Florida, and severely cut the state’s job procurement agency, Enterprise Florida. Both agencies had been under fire for underperforming and not operating openly so taxpayers and lawmakers could see where the money was going.

The new deal also has lawmakers allocating $210 million more to schools, so that the state will now spend $100 per student. It’s not as much as Scott wanted, but it does represent a 33 percent increase in spending right away per pupil.

The extra education spending will also make it possible to open more charter schools, a Scott priority.

The special session so that lawmakers can shift money from Scott’s vetoes to his pet programs is set for June 7-9.