House Speaker Richard Corcoran opened the legislative session Tuesday with a defiant tone, urging his flock to "keep fighting" and "joyfully crashing against the special interests" that control Tallahassee.
In remarks prepared for delivery on the opening day of the 2017 session, Corcoran did not mention Gov. Rick Scott by name -- but he left no doubt that his remarks were directed mostly at his fellow Republican. Scott has waged an intensely personal campaign against the speaker, who has targeted Enterprise Florida for elimination, called for a drastic budget cut and new restrictions on Visit Florida, sued the state Lottery for alleged misspending and demanded an audit of another agency's legal fees.
He also has accused Scott of trying to impose a half-billion dollar property tax increase on Floridians, the result of higher property values, to pay for a per-pupil increase in public school spending. Scott and the Senate disagree with Corcoran and say it's not a tax hike.
Excerpts from Corcoran's prepared remarks:
"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.
"Because right now, there are some who are suggesting that we pass the largest budget in history. We will not. We will not. Instead of spending more money, we will fight to eliminate waste from the budget.
"Right now, there are some who are suggesting that we pass a massive property tax increase. We will not."
Corcoran told the House: "When we began this journey together, we promised to be better, to do things differently, and to reach for a higher standard, and we will ... Let's fight."