“Mister speaker, the president of the Florida Senate. Let the president be received!”
A stately welcome for Mike Haridopolos, a man whose top lieutenant on Monday accused House Speaker Dean Cannon of playing 'stunts' with Florida's budget.
The comment threatened to throw the legislature into overtime, but after a night of backroom deal-making the House and Senate are finally getting down to business on a compromise plan to cut $4 billion in spending.
“Yesterday was an up-and-down day, and our friendship really made the day a success, and I think we've always enjoyed a good relationship and I think hopefully we can continue to find a lot of success,” Sen. Haridopolos said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Scott is trumpeting enormous success in cutting the crime rate. It's fallen 6.7 percent, not bad given a weak economy.
“While we can't point to one single factor or set of factors that drive the crime rate, clearly we are moving in the right direction,” the governor said. “We have strict laws and tough penalties in place.”
“What do you want? CHOICE! When do you want it? NOW!”
Outside the capitol, a massive rally in support of legislation that would expand Florida’s charter school system. Critics complain it would be a drain on taxpayer funding for public schools, but many of those are failing.
“Choice is the most important thing when it comes to education,” said Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. “Parents involved with their kids - that's what's going to make everybody successful in this process.”
It now appears Gov. Scott's controversial plan to cut corporate income taxes may not be dead, as many had thought. Even though money's tight, Haridopolos says he's optimistic there will be lower taxes in the budget.
For the second day in a row, the powerful Senate Budget Committee has postponed a vote on a bill that would dramatically shrink the state-run insurance company. Insiders say senate leaders are trying to reduce the rate hikes Citizens Property Insurance would be required to implement beginning next year.