Florida is facing a $3.5 billion budget shortfall, and by law Governor Rick Scott is required to come up with a plan to fix it. Scott's expectations could be about to meet reality.
Rick Scott won the governor's mansion as an outsider with bold ideas. Chief among them was cutting taxes for both homeowners and corporations, but the governor admits doing that could be more difficult than he envisioned.
Scott's apparently so focused he had to go to Senate President Mike Haridopolos for an extension of the deadline to submit his budget. Haridopolos said yes, but he's doubtful the governor can find the money to make the tax cuts happen.
“We have a very unique governor who brings a unique perspective to government,” he said. “I think he's going to have some creative ideas to try to get to that balanced budget which we're required to have.”
In other words, solving the budget deficit is challenging enough.
On the campaign trail, the governor walked in virtual lock-step with his legislative counterparts, promising a new era of cooperation with the folks upstairs, but now only a few weeks into the new era there's already a palpable tension.
“I think he's having difficulties.”
Democratic representative Rick Kriseman says he can't remember the last time a governor was late with his budget proposal. He predicts the legislature's patience could begin to wear thin.
“I think the governor's going to find out he can't do things the way he typically has, and I suspect that the Senate president and the speaker are going to get very frustrated at times with him,” he said.
Not that they're not prepared to give the new governor the benefit of the doubt.
“If there's room for tax relief on top of it, we're all ears,” said Haridopolos.
But the clock is ticking.
The deadline extension gives Scott and his team an extra weekend to finish work on budget recommendations. They're due Monday, February 6.