Working toward a final Florida state budget, news of a skirmish between the Senate and House emerges.
A war of words appears to have broken out between House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Latvala ended budget negotiations after Corcoran “changed the deal” by insisting the final agreement link VISIT Florida’s $25 million advertising budget to new rules on the agency’s employee travel and salaries.
Details have not been released before Monday’s vote by the full Legislature.
House budget conference attendees have agreed “in front of God and everybody” to put VISIT Florida money into the final budget, Latvala said, apart from language about agency operations.
“They changed the deal last night to put it all together and I stopped everything and we argued about it for a while,” Latvala told the Times, adding that Senate President Joe Negron ended the stalemate by an “interpretation” allowing Corcoran to get his way with a “last-minute switcheroo.”
“Without a meeting, without any vote by the conference committee,” Latvala said, “they’ve done it their way.”
The Clearwater Republican senator called Corcoran’s treatment of VISIT Florida “disrespectful” to the state’s largest industry.
Corcoran, though spokesman Fred Piccolo, responded: “It’s no great mystery that the speaker has demanded accountability and transparency from VISIT Florida.”