House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, kicked off the annual AP Florida Legislative Planning Session Wednesday on the top floor of a fog-shrouded state Capitol.
The $3.5-billion shortfall that confronts lawmakers will make it tough to follow through on Gov. Rick Scott's proposals to cut business and property taxes in his first year in office, even with a thorough overhaul of Medicaid. He said holding the line on taxes would be a success.
"Whether it's possible to reduce them (taxes), the governor's indicated he's got a plan for that, I'm eager to see that," Cannon said. But he described cutting taxes as "a big challenge" and "very difficult."
Addressing about 100 reporters and editors from across the state, Cannon noted he holds a journalism degree from UF (he's also a lawyer). He chided editorial writers for siding with the courts when he criticized the Supreme Court for striking some legislatively-approved initiatives from the 2010 ballot, and he faulted them for uniformly supporting every open records proposal "without regard to its practicality, its efficacy or its motive." Cannon said "comprehensive court reform" is on his agenda for the upcoming session.
Cannon touched on the need for civility in public discourse. He said a "healthy tension" between the press and government has morphed into "outright hostility" by the press, which he said is bad for democracy. "Something has gone terribly wrong," Cannon said. "We talk past each other."
-- Steve Bousquet