Scott’s must-have Commerce Dept. dividing House and Senateby John Kennedy | April 28th, 2011
The Senate’s lead budget negotiator on economic development issues said Thursday that his side will likely quit talks a day ahead of schedule, resigned that big-ticket differences with Gov. Rick Scott and the House may demand higher-level decision-making.
Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said negotiators have reached consensus on dozens of smaller issues dividing the House and Senate.
But Scott’s plan for creating a Commerce Department that combines a host of state agencies while gaining control of economic development cash continues to draw questions from senators.
The House generally has been pushing Scott’s position. But Gaetz said early Thursday that his side is likely to make one more offer to the House — and then call off a planned additional day of discussion.
Gaetz said it makes sense to let budget chairs, Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, and Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, attempt to step in more quickly than planned.
“Our positions now are pretty well known to each other,” Gaetz said. “But there are some things that it looks like we’re not going to come to terms on.”
Gaetz’s move signals that the structure of Scott’s vaunted Commerce Department will likely play an influential role in end-game talks between the House and Senate on crafting a $66 billion-plus state budget.