Florida special session possible as Irma's cost rises

By  | 

FLORIDA -- (WTVY) To keep the money from running out, state lawmakers could be forced to call a special session.
Hurricane Irma's wind may have quit blowing, but the storm's continuing to blow through Florida's bank account, racking up a quarter-billion dollars and counting in direct recovery costs.
The state only has a billion in reserves, and the massive clean-up is far from over.
"Irma was not a welcome tourist in our state."
Some state leaders say it's time for lawmakers to get down to business, to hold a special legislative session devoted to Irma.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran's putting his chamber on notice:
"What we have said in the House is that you're going to have to cut the budget. We have long-term budget issues."
Everything from hurricane-related road repairs to stepped up mosquito spraying could require a lot more cash, cash that could have to be freed up by cutting other parts of the budget.
That could mean some difficult choices.
"I don't feel much better about this forecast than I did the forecast I was watching this time last week."
For his part, Governor Rick Scott says it's still too soon to make a decision.
"Right now, the focus should be, let's keep everybody alive, let's make sure we rescue everybody that might be in danger, let's start the process of getting the power back, the fuel back. We've got all these things, then we can look at things like that afterwards."
Under the Federal Government's Emergency Declaration, Washington's agreeing to cover all of Florida's initial recovery costs, but we might not get that money for a period of months or even years.
The reimbursement process could take that long.
That's why a special session could be unavoidable.
Lawmakers are set to be at the Capitol for committee hearings over the course of two weeks next month.
Legislative leaders say a special session could easily be added to that schedule.