In prepared remarks for his speech Tuesday, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran again threw down the gauntlet to Senate leadership and the Governor’s office, offering an unapologetic defense of the House’s approach to state government under his watch.
That said, Corcoran asserts that the House is willing to negotiate, to “come to the table, sit down and work together to ensure real reform and genuine accountability.”
“We don’t believe the House has a monopoly on good ideas. We’re willing to listen, we’re willing to talk, and we’re willing to enter into good compromise,” Corcoran asserted.
Corcoran said his vision for the Florida House is a pure one: “To govern as we campaigned,” despite the “outrage, vehement opposition and personal attacks” that have resulted from political rivals.
“And so be it. Because everything we have done so far — we have done to keep faith with the voters who sent us here,” Corcoran said.
Among the accomplishments, Corcoran cited: “the toughest ethics and transparency rules of any chamber of any legislature in the United States” and “an end to the shadowy pork barrel budgets that wasted millions in taxpayer money.”
In his prepared remarks, Corcoran also alluded to the House’s focus on Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, two priority incentive projects of Gov. Rick Scott.
“We questioned an agency’s spending and exposed its failures and abuses,” Corcoran said. “We forced another agency into the sunshine, sued a rapper and won, only to reveal even more wasteful spending.”
Of course, there’s more to government in Florida than suing Pitbull.
Corcoran’s remarks also focused on the House’s new insistence that universities, economic development agencies, and tourist development commissions have transparent budgeting, and that state agencies “demonstrate they are obtaining value for taxpayers.”
“We have taken on each of these fights because they were the right thing to do, and we will carry that mission forward,” Corcoran asserted.
Corcoran, over the next 60 days, vows a transformational agenda … and will brook no interference.
“And for those organizations and agencies unwilling to change; who see themselves as being special; as being exempt and above the law, then know this: we will continue to fight for the taxpayers, and we don’t care if that battle takes place in committee rooms or courtrooms,” Corcoran remarked.
“And for anyone waiting for us to slow down, to drop the big ideas, to stop trying to shake up the system, to cower in the face of attacks, or to cave to the demands of special interests; here’s our message to you: We will not,” Corcoran added.
The Florida House, said Corcoran, “will fight to eliminate waste” from the state budget, which is proposed as the largest budget in Florida history.
The House will not only oppose another property tax increase, Corcoran said, but “will also fight for another $25,000 Homestead Exemption that will give Florida’s homeowners over $700 million in savings.”
The House also will continue its fight for 12-year term limits on appellate judges.
“I’m not saying this is easy. Debate can get intense especially if it’s about something important in people’s lives, but we can be passionate about these issues without ever becoming personal,” Corcoran said.
Indeed, Corcoran believes such robust debate is a hallmark of democracy.
“Many pundits have used the debates between the governor, judiciary, Senate and the House to portend doom. It is actually just the opposite. A robust civil debate is a sign that our democracy is working,” Corcoran asserted.
“When we get lazy and start rubber-stamping bills; when we never engage in spirited intellectual debate, that is when people should begin to worry. Even a special session isn’t a disaster; it’s just a longer, more complicated conversation. And these issues are so important that sometimes they merit more time. It’s called the marketplace of ideas,” Corcoran added, “and it makes our country the wonder of the world.”
Corcoran believes that the “greatest accomplishments” this Legislative Session will be bipartisan. And he offered a rhetorical olive branch, of sorts, to the agencies in the crosshairs of the Florida House.
“I also want to deliver a message to all the entities with whom the House has engaged with — we extend our hand to you. Come to the table, sit down and let’s work together to ensure real reform and genuine accountability. We don’t believe the House has a monopoly on good ideas. We’re willing to listen, we’re willing to talk, and we’re willing to enter into good compromise,” Corcoran said.
The remarks Corcoran prepared for delivery serve myriad purposes. They establish the Florida House’s positions as rooted in principle while offering a way forward for the kind of negotiation that makes the difference between a successful session and one that fails.