Gov. Scott, Legislative Leaders Announce Special Session Next Week

Posted June 03, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott has reached a deal with lawmakers to bring them back to the Capitol for a special session next week to add money to the budget for economic development programs, according to a source familiar with the deal. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron - will announce a special session this morning at Miami International Airport.

Another concession to Scott will be $76 million in funding for the tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida.

Corcoran had resisted funding economic incentives, deriding them as "corporate welfare".

On May 9, a day after the budget was approved by the House and Senate, Scott told reporters in Panama City that Florida wont be in the “game for economic development” because of cuts to Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.

Scott unsuccessfully asked for $250 million a year ago for incentives, and this year his request was for $85 million to fund the Quick Action Closing Fund.

Corcoran won concessions that the Visit Florida would be held to higher accountability standards and that the new $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund would not be specifically targeted at individual companies.

"I think we have the outlines for a tremendous session, a productive session and one that will do great things for the people of Florida", Corcoran said.

Scott said he had been having conversations with Corcoran and Negron for months and feels this process was necessary. The governor was going to be vigorous with his vetoes, " said Sen.

Corcoran also sought to slash funding for Enterprise Florida's operating budget from $23.5 million to $16 million and eliminate 21 corporate incentive programs.

To set up the special session, Scott signed the new budget (SB 2500), while vetoing $410 million in spending and projects. It was a priority of Corcoran and includes benefits to charter schools.

"The whole focus will be how to get more jobs in the state", Scott said. Scott said he aims to "increase the K-12 funding".

The budget, however, allows Enterprise Florida to maintain its worldwide offices and continue foreign trade missions. Corcoran said medical marijuana is not now on the list of special session issues, but that it could be added over the weekend.

Robert Avossa, superintendent for the School District of Palm Beach County, was also critical, saying the governor's push to boost per pupil education spending by $100 - about $75 per pupil more than legislators had agreed upon - is inadequate given state revenue growth.

One notable issue, medical marijuana, which was supported by 71 percent of Floridians in last year's election, won't initially be part of special session.

Voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the state constitution in 2016 allowing for expanded use of medical marijuana, but legislators failed to agree on a statewide framework for its management and sale, leaving the Department of Health to come up with guidelines next month.