Gov. Rick Scott chastised state lawmakers for being unable to complete the 2017-18 budget on time, but once again stopped short of saying whether he would veto the entire spending plan once it reaches his desk.
“You would expect that when people have a job to do they’d get it done. I’ve been in business all my life, and that’s what you expect if you have a deadline,” said Scott following a stop in Naples on Thursday morning. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.’”
House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron announced Wednesday they had reached an agreement on a final 2017-18 state budget. Both legislative leaders told their chambers the plan was to reconvene in Tallahassee at 1 p.m. Monday to consider the budget and budget bills.
“It would be my goal that we would conclude our session at a reasonable time on Monday evening, to allow members to travel home if they chose to, or stay until Tuesday and go back then,” Negron told members Wednesday.
The budget needs to be finalized 72-hours before the final vote. While Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Carlos Trujillo met Wednesday to publicly finalize several parts of the budget, there are still a few pots of money that need to be publicly closed out.
Much of the $83 billion budget was crafted in secret, something that Scott has pounced on in recent days. The Naples Republican — who launched a three-day, 10-city tour to make a last minute push for his priorities Wednesday — chided lawmakers for working on the budget behind closed doors during his stop at Best Home Services in Naples.
Scott encouraged Floridians to call their legislators and ask them what was in the budget and why there wasn’t more of an opportunity for public input. He also said voters should ask lawmakers “why can’t you get it done on time?”
“They’re supposed to vote on this budget on Monday, and I have no earthly idea what’s in this budget,” said Scott. “Remember what Nancy Pelosi said about … Obamacare a few years ago: ‘You won’t know until you vote for it.’ It’s similar to this. I don’t know anyone is going to know (what’s in it).”
“On an annual basis, there’s 4,000 lines in the budget. It takes us a long time to review them,” he continued. “How is someone going to vote on Monday on a budget, 4,000 lines in a budget, that they haven’t seen?”
Scott is scheduled to hit five cities Thursday, where he’ll urge Floridians to call their lawmakers to ask them to support his top priorities — $100 million Visit Florida and $200 million to fix the dike around Lake Okeechobee. The governor also wants money for Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency, to help lure businesses to the Sunshine State.
It’s unlikely he’s going to get much of his requests. Legislators have agreed to set aside $25 million for tourism marketing, and don’t have money for the Herbert Hoover Dike in the budget.
Although Scott declined to say whether he would veto the entire budget when it gets to his desk, he did note it was an option.
“When I get the budget — when I finally get to see it, because I haven’t see the budget — then I’ll make the decision whether I veto the entire budget or look at any lines and see if they are a good use of your money,” he said. “Because remember, it’s not the Legislature’s money. It’s not the state’s money. It’s your money.”
_The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permissions.