When the Florida Legislature convenes in two weeks, two men will wield almost uncheckable power over a conservative agenda of lower taxes, budget cuts, evaluating teacher performance, and Medicaid and pension reform.
House Speaker Dean Cannon, a lawyer from Winter Park, and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a Merritt Island college professor who is running for the U.S. Senate, are poised to dominate the debate over the state’s budget and job crisis.
Unlike previous presiding officers, Cannon and Haridopolos consolidated their power on the strength of a veto-proof majority delivered by the Republican landslide in November. They strengthened that clout by steering millions of dollars in campaign cash to the political campaigns of newcomers who now owe their elections in large part to them.
Each has assigned a pecking order status to members – giving their favorites the most coveted office space, the most sought-after committee assignments, and even the most convenient parking spots. And, working with a small circle of advisors, each can determine which of the Gov. Rick Scott’s proposals stay in the budget, and which get killed.
Read more here for on the first in the Capital Clout series by the Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times.