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Against criticism by governor, Joe Negron makes the case for budget deal

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Faced with the prospect of a gubernatorial budget veto, Senate President Joe Negron said Wednesday that he hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“I hope the governor doesn’t veto the budget, because I think it’s a strong budget. He certainly has every right to look at particular items,” Negron told reporters following the day’s Senate session.

Scott noted earlier in the day that he has the authority to veto the $83 billion budget in whole or in part, although he did not commit to either course. He’s specifically mentioned his unhappiness with funding levels for Visit Florida, Enterprise Florida, and repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.

Scott also criticized the Florida Legislature budget talks as secretive, saying he does not know what is or is not in the budget.

“The governor always has that option,” Negron said of a veto. “I don’t see anything unique about this budget that would make it more or less likely to be vetoed.”

Regarding secretiveness, he insisted the process has been “very open and transparent.”

For example, the House and Senate agreed not to insert projects into the budget during conference committee meetings.

“That’s a dramatic change from how the budget process was done before.”

He and House Speaker Richard Corcoran started making decisions only when their budget chairman and subcommittee chairman could not, Negron said.

“The vast majority was of it was resolved before things got to the presiding officers.”

He noted that the Senate has been supportive of Scott’s priorities, including Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida and other economic development programs.

“The Senate has fought hard for the governor’s priorities the entire session,” he said.

“At some point in this process, if one part of the Legislature does not want to fund something, it’s always easier not to do something than to actively fund something.”

Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon said his caucus might be happy to see budget elements vetoed.

“It depends. We’ve got to see it first. I’m not going to opine on something that, as you can see, is not on my desk,” Braynon said.

“I’m trying to think of something terrible. Schools of Hope. Maybe Best and Brightest,” he said — referring to two education programs disfavored by many Democrats.

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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