House, Senate leaders cautious about Scott’s $1.2 billion promise for schoolsby John Kennedy | January 30th, 2013
Gov. Rick Scott’s pitch Wednesday for $1.2 billion more for public schools didn’t draw resounding support from his fellow Republican leaders in the Legislature.
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said they still want to see how Scott finds the extra cash in the state budget, before they said much about its prospects.
“We do have more revenue, but our budget surplus is breathing room,” Weatherford said. “It’s not enough to put your feet up on the couch.”
Gaetz also sounded cautious, as the two leaders follwed Scott at the Associated Press’ annual planning meeting at the state Capitol.
“We’ve come out of the locust years,” Gaetz said, relying on a biblical reference to frame the budget balancing facing lawmakers. “But I’m not sure we’re in the land of milk and honey.”
State economists say the improving economy has yielded an $828.5 million budget surplus — making this year the first since 2007 that lawmakers won’t face a shortfall during this spring’s session. But the extra cash can easily disappear, both Weatherford and Gaetz warned.
Weatherford said he’s eager to hear Scott’s full budget presentation Thursday.
“We’ll see tomorrow how he does that,” the speaker said.