TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Legislature on Friday rolled out spending plans that reveal new problems for Gov. Rick Scott's two signature priorities of tax cuts and money to attract jobs.
"I'm not very patient," Scott told his most loyal cheering section at a breakfast Friday of Enterprise Florida, the statewide public-private economic development arm that he chairs.
Scott declared Enterprise Florida virtually bankrupt for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. He is insisting on a record $250 million in economic incentive money to spend over three years to lure jobs to Florida.
"We have to have this money," Scott said Thursday at an Enterprise Florida dinner. "Call everybody you know in the House and Senate."
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The House's $80 billion proposed budget does not include that money. The Senate budget does, but it relies on $100 million from the Deepwater Horizon settlement.
Scott told the Herald/Times he wants the $250 million to come from the state treasury. But he did not rule out the oil spill settlement money as a potential source.
"As long as it's revenue that I know is going to be there, so I can do deals," Scott said.
After the chaos and conflict of last year, largely between Scott and his fellow Republicans in the Senate, both sides promised to work more cooperatively this year.
As the nine-week session heads into its fourth week, budget negotiations are on schedule, unlike last year when budget talks melted down and forced an overtime session.
But philosophical differences remain, especially in education spending.
Senate leaders oppose Scott's plan to rely almost entirely on higher property tax payments to pay for a boost in public school spending.
Nearly 90 percent of the increase in K-12 spending in Scott's budget would be funded by increased values of homes and businesses, which means higher property tax bills, even if property tax rates remain unchanged.
Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who chairs the Senate budget subcommittee for education, is proposing to replace local property taxes with state tax revenue that Scott wants to spend elsewhere.
Gaetz said 88 percent of Scott's proposed increase in school spending would come from property taxes, and the goal should be 50 percent, which would carry a price tag of $254 million, more than one-quarter of Scott's tax cut target.
"The governor's proposal offloads 88 percent of [higher] education funding onto local property taxpayers," Gaetz said. "This notion of tipping the balance and sending 88 percent of the bill to local taxpayers is a problem."
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, told reporters he supports Gaetz's concept, which could take more than $250 million out of Scott's call for $1 billion in business-friendly tax relief.
Democrats accuse Republicans of misplaced priorities by emphasizing business-friendly tax cuts over improving the social services safety net for the poor and the middle class.
On healthcare, lawmakers are ready to sink Scott's plan to reduce Medicaid money to hospitals that reported higher-than-average profits in 2014.
"That issue is off the table," said Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, who chairs the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.
Instead, lawmakers want to distribute $608 million to reimburse hospitals for unpaid procedures based on their charity care each year. That ensures that most of the state's safety net hospitals, including Jackson Memorial in Miami and Tampa General, would earn 100 percent reimbursements.
Scott antagonized some lawmakers last year when he vetoed $461 million in line-item spending. Undaunted, lawmakers are inviting a new round of wrath from Scott by putting some of those very same projects into next year's budget.
They include $2.5 million for a commerce park in Lake Worth, $800,000 for the Clearwater Historical Society, $1 million for the Miami Design District and $250,000 to host modern pentathlon Olympic trials in Sarasota, a project championed by former U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris.
Senate and House appropriations committees will amend and vote out their respective budgets for the first time next Wednesday.