Scott, legislative leaders announce special session

Posted June 03, 2017

If lawmakers vote during the special session, which is scheduled for June 7 to 9, to keep Visit Florida's funding at $76 million it would save the tourism organization from a 67 percent funding cut next year that would cap its funding at $25 million.

Almost month after they went home following the conclusion of the 2017 Legislative session, members of both the Florida House and Senate will be returning to Tallahassee for a three day special session. He also convinced lawmakers to boost per-pupil K-12 education spending by $215 million, or $100 per student. Part of the mix includes a key education policy bill (HB 7069) that includes $419 million in charter-school incentives and pay bonuses for teachers and principals but is opposed by major education groups.

Each leader will get something from the deal, which will be completed in a special session that begins Wednesday.

The GOP governor had been threatening to veto the entire state budget after lawmakers slashed money to Florida's tourism marketing agency and provided only a small amount of money for the state's economic development agency.

Despite the legislature not reaching an agreement on medical marijuana sales, the issue is not on the call for the special session.

Florida will fix the state's vote-by-mail ballot law that a federal judge called "illogical and freakish". Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana last November but a legislative fight over who should be allowed to sell it derailed an effort to pass a bill during this year's regular session. Under the deal reached by the governor and lawmakers, the reduced funding for the state's economic development partnership will remain, but Scott will be given $85 million to offer incentives to locating or expanding businesses.

The governor will get his main priority: funding for economic incentives and tourism promotion.

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The complex deal struck behind closed doors between the governor and top leaders in both houses basically has Scott line-item vetoing about $400 million in projects.

"The goal is to increase it", said Scott.

But lawmakers eliminated the pot of cash known as the Quick Action Closing Fund from Enterprise Florida's offerings.

As lawmakers prepare for next week's special session, one issue that remains up in the air is medical marijuana.

The deal was forged through private conversations over the last few weeks after the regular session ended in early May.

Scott, a two-term Republican who has loyally supported the school choice movement, had refrained from taking a position on HB 7069. Without legislative action, more of the responsibility for the regulatory framework would fall on the state Department of Health. While Corcoran criticized a $1 million promotional contract with rapper Pitbull and likened economic incentives to "corporate welfare", Scott toured the state labeling Corcoran and other House members as "job killers".