The relationship between Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature appears headed to a critical juncture. First, Crist vetoed the leadership fund bill, a priority of the incoming leaders. Now he's making noise about a possible veto of the bill that abolishes teacher tenure and tying teacher pay to test scores, and he's even criticizing the way the House is handling such a key piece of legislation.
Crist compared the House's decision to block floor amendments to the teacher tenure bill (SB 6) to the criticism that the Obama administration "rammed through" complex health care legislation.
"That is disappointing because I think you always have to keep an open mind," Crist said. "There was a lot of complaining in Washington about health care legislation sort of being rammed through, and I don't want Florida to do similar kinds of things."
It's often smart politics to run against the Legislature. It now has two plausible reasons to veto the bill: the potential impact on teachers in challenging jobs, such as those teaching the disabled, and the lack of transparency in the House. (The House wanted a "clean" unamended bill because of the risk of problems if the bill had to return to the Senate, where it passed on a close 21-17 vote).
The governor also says he's "concerned about" other things, like the fact that a Senate committee cancelled Tuesday's meeting where the confirmation of two Crist appointees to the Public Service Commission. He's also troubled by a Senate bill that would subject Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty to a confirmation process every other year.
Crist said he "would absolutely agree" that he is now setting himself apart from the Republican controlled Legislature, saying: "If there are things that are happening that you don't think are in the best interest of the people of Florida, you know, I stand up for them, and that's what I'm doing," Crist said.
-- Steve Bousquet