Senate prez Haridopolos: Time to put egos asideby Dara Kam | February 8th, 2012
Senate President Mike Haridopolos, feeling a bit more upbeat about Florida’s economic outlook, said his chamber will likely pass its spending plan late next week, setting the stage for negotiations between the two chambers over the $69.2 billion spending plan.
“If we can find allocation agreements between the House and Senate, we’ll get done on time. If we don’t, we’ll be here for a while,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said. “We’re not too far apart. This is about putting egos aside and doing what’s right and not playing games.”
Because session started two months early this year due to redistricting, Haridopolos originally floated the idea of holding off on the budget until state economists had more certainty about the state’s financial health.
But Haridopolos said today he’s feeling a little more confident in part because the state’s unemployment rate has continued to drop and is now at its lowest in three years.
“I think we all have to feel a little bit better about it with the unemployment rate where it is,” Haridopolos said, adding that the Senate budget provides “flexibility” by setting aside $1 billion in reserves along with money from the tobacco settlement and state universities’ reserves.
But Haridopolos remained cautious.
“Anyone who says that they’re confident about the economy I think is living in a dream world. But we’re all encouraged that the stock market’s up. We’re all encouraged that the unemployment rate has dipped a bit. But we still have a heck of a long way to go,” he said.