Florida budget deal trades cash for bad policy

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Leaders of the public-private Enterprise Florida, as they began a two-day meeting Thursday in Tallahassee, outlined plans to alter marketing but otherwise mostly expressed disappointment in the spending package lawmakers formally sent Scott on Wednesday.

Scott is calling a special session to discuss the following measures beginning on June 7 and ending on June 9. In the budget passed May 8, lawmakers did not provide money for economic-development incentives and included $25 million for Visit Florida.

But both seeming to find common ground after the Governor vetoed $400-million dollars from the state's $82-billion dollar budget.

In announcing the deal, Scott and Corcoran appear to have finally declared a truce after engaging in an intense war of words over the last few months, primarily over the issue of economic incentives.

Environmental groups made a push in recent weeks to get Scott to force lawmakers to boost money for the land conservation program Florida Forever, but were unsuccessful.

The Republican governor remains angered over the Legislature's decision to slash spending for economic development and tourism incentives, as well as rejecting his call for $200 million to fix the Herbert Hoover dike around Lake Okeechobee. Under the deal reached by the governor and lawmakers, the reduced funding for the state's economic development partnership will remain, but Scott will be given $85 million to offer incentives to locating or expanding businesses. Instead it will be spent on workforce training as well as public works projects.

But, if Scott, Corcoran and Negron now agree on keeping Visit Florida's funding at its current $76 million, where was that support during the legislative session?

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Senate President Joe Negron told The News Service of Florida he is aware of ongoing talks between Scott and Corcoran regarding a sweeping education bill - which contains a priority of the speaker - and Enterprise Florida. There was speculation the governor might veto the entire budget.

The increased school spending will amount to $210 million.

In return, the governor is expected to sign a controversial education bill, HB 7069, that is Corcoran's top priority.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said the deal was not yet set in stone.

Democrats who opposed the education bill quickly lambasted Scott and Republicans. Sen.

Next week's special session will also be used to allow legislators to write the rules for implementing the medical marijuana constitutional amendment approved by voters in November.

Corcoran, in a memo to House members, said the item could still be added to next week's session agenda if a deal is worked out.