A Special Session of Disastrous Proportions

State Senator David Simmons R-Altamonte Springs (Miami Hearld)

This was to be the special session where all parties of the Florida’s dysfunctional legislature could claim some sort of victory.

Instead, what us Floridians are witnessing is all out war between the House of Representatives and the Senate, and one of the main casualties of this political civil war may be public education.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called a special session after he vetoed nearly $412 million in funding from the budget, along with all of the $11.2 billion of funding needed to keep public education running in the Sunshine State.

This was done so that Scott could get two of his main economic babies, the embattled Visit Florida and the regularly panned Enterprise Florida, more money from a House that was fed up with corporate welfare and mismanagement from the state’s tourism promotion agency.

Before the special session began, Scott seemingly inked a deal with House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O’ Lakes) on restoring Visit Florida’s $76 million budget and providing nearly $85 million a newly-created job training and infrastructure fund (essentially, giving money to Enterprise Florida without actually giving them money), all in exchange for Scott’s promise to sing a controversial education bill that would shuttle public money to charter schools.

It was supposed to be a grand win for all sides. Scott would get his precious funding and Corcoran would get his prized “Schools of Hope” bill signed; but the senate wasn’t willing to go along with the plan, feeling like they were being hosed after a session where they were beaten at every turn by the ultra-conservative House.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (NBC Miami)

So instead of going with the program and quickly passing the spending plan, Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart) and the rest of the Senate decided to go their own route, undoing Scott’s vetoes on education spending and forcing the House back to the table on restoring some of the cuts to hospitals, passing medical marijuana requirements, and insisting on funding their budget plans with an increase in property taxes and some funds from the state’s “rainy day fund” instead of using the money that was freed up by Scott’s vetoes.

This has put the Senate on a collision course with the House over spending ideology, and it’s a real possibility that this special session could end with no deal on any of the spending priorities that all sides wanted and lawmakers having to go back to the drawing board in yet another costly special session that taxpayers will, again, foot the bill for.

The failure to do the basic duty of governing an embarrassing sight in Tallahassee. Instead of representing and taking care the needs of the state and its citizens, our elected officials have resorted to bickering and placing political ideology over doing what’s good for the state as a whole.

We could be in for another special session this month in Tallahassee, and frankly, no one on either side of the political coin should have any faith right now in our elected officials doing the one thing they were elected to do — govern.

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