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The political tea leaves of Rick Scott's budget

Rick Scott wants to throw himself a tea party over the Florida budget.

The new Republican governor reached out to tea party organizers to host a budget-rollout event Monday in Eustis, a rural heartland town about 190 miles from the state Capitol — where governors traditionally unveil their spending proposals.

The event underscores Scott's likely commitment to propose a budget with large cuts in spending, fees and taxes — a proposal that has been met with skepticism by legislators, who aren't sure how to slash up to $2 billion in taxes and fees while the state faces a shortfall that could top $4 billion next budget year.

But calling for less government spending and revenue is like serving sugar, milk and crumpets to the tea party, an amorphous conservative-leaning movement that fired up the Republican base in November's election.

"I believe Gov. Scott is going to put out a budget that most of us can get behind," said Patricia Sullivan, an event organizer and co-founder of North Lake Tea Party in Lake County.

"The tea party isn't a rubber stamp for anyone," said Sullivan, adding that she's honored Scott reached out to the movement so he could share his budget first with it. She said about 27 groups of roughly 50 have RSVP'd for the event, which could draw thousands Feb. 7 to Eustis' Ferran Park.

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