LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Local lawmakers said fiscal headaches plagued them throughout the 2011 Florida Legislature, but even so, they considered the session a success.
“I had a good session,” said state Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton. “But I didn’t get everything I wanted.”
Bennett counted among his successes a growth management bill he said “will affect everybody in this room,” gesturing toward the full dining room at the Lakewood Ranch Country Club.
The crowd turned out for a Joint Legislative Wrap-Up Dinner sponsored by the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange; the Home Builder Association of Manatee/Sarasota; and the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance.
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Bennett said he didn’t know if he did the right thing in pushing for changes the growth management bill called for, but contended it was better than the status quo.
“I cannot believe that the state can do a better job of managing Bradenton than Mayor (Wayne) Poston can,” he said.
Others who joined Bennett on the dais included state Reps. Greg Steube, R-Bradenton; Doug Holder and Ray Pilon, both R-Sarasota; and lobbyist David Ramba.
Holder termed 2011 “probably the most difficult year I’ve ever had in Tallahassee.”
He cited efforts to halt prescription drug abuse, Medicaid funding, growth management, vets issues, court system changes, tort reform and unemployment compensation as particularly sticky issues.
Ramba called 2011 “a year of new, bold ideas.”
The $615 million worth of vetoes issued earlier Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott, he said, represented the governor making his mark on the session.
Ramba also noted “the honeymoon’s over” with the governor, whose popularity in polls has slumped.
Discussing the governor’s veto of a $5 million appropriation for a Sarasota rowing center Thursday, Bennett lamented: “We screwed up.”
He said the delegation had started too late and had failed to accurately explain the beauties of the rowing center program to others.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.