Scott keeps calm, carries on, despite priorities adriftby John Kennedy | April 23rd, 2013
Gov. Rick Scott is being challenged by top lawmakers on his pitch for low-income health insurance and the lone issues he’s labeled legislative priorities — tax breaks and teacher pay.
But Scott Tuesday declined to bad mouth anyone, as the session lurches into its final two weeks.
About as threatening Scott got was in delivering a veiled hint that he’d veto the priorities of House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, which include revamping campaign finance laws and ethics changes.
But, Scoff quickly added, “I’ve been very clear…Everybody can have a successful session.”
Weatherford looms as Scott’s biggest obstacle, refusing to embrace his health insurance plan and allowing the governor’s tax break package to proceed at a glacial pace. The governor tried to use logic in convincing the House.
“We don’t have a choice about the taxes that are part of the president’s health law,” Scott said of the federal health care overhaul. “We do have a choice whether we cover individuals that today don’t have health care. I believe that while the federal government pays 100 percent, we should cover those who don’t have access to health care.”
Scott said he didn’t think he had to flex his muscles.
“The Senate president and speaker of the House know exactly where I stand on this, and I’m very hopeful that they’ll do the right thing,” he concluded.
The House has rejected a call by Scott and the Senate to enact a Healthy Florida plan that could draw billions of federal dollars to insure 1.1 million low-income Floridians. Instead, the House has recommended a more modest proposal that uses $247 million of state taxpayer dollars next year to cover 115,000 uninsured Floridians.
Scott, did, however, get slightly worked up over the House’s push for a 6 percent tuition increase for college and university students. Scott and the Senate have rejected that approach.
“I can’t believe that the House wants to increase tuition 6 percent,” Scott said. “Florida families can’t afford it….every time they raise tuition, which they’ve done for five straight years, it impacts the poorest families in our state and their ability to go to college.”
Later, Gaetz said he endorsed Scott’s handling of the delicate end-game negotiations with the House and Senate.
“I think it’s been a good approach….If he were all over us all the time, pounding away repetitively, redundantly on his issues, we’d be saying ‘he’s too heavy handed,” Gaetz said.
“I think the governor proposes, the Legislature disposes,” Gaetz added. “There’s no lack of clarity about where the governor stands at all.”