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Scott prematurely declares tax break deal with Legislature

Gov. Rick Scott said Monday he had reached a late-session deal with
the Legislature to secure his priority of a sales tax exemption for
manufacturing equipment. But the House and Senate said no such agreement had yet been reached, putting Scott in the position of prematurely declaring victory and forcing lawmakers to set the record straight.

"We came to an agreement with the House and Senate. They're going to
eliminate that tax for a three-year period," Scott said Monday afternoon
at a bill-signing event. "It's the right thing to do. We have a significant surplus this year."

Less than two hours later, Senate  President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, directly contradicted Scott and said no such agreement had yet been struck.

"I think we're in discussions, but I think the governor may be announcing an agreement to which all parties have not yet agreed," Gaetz said. "I don't believe any  final agreement has been concluded among the House of Representatives, the Senate and the governor."

House Speaker Will Weatherford's office released a bland statement that said: "Our staff has been in contact with Gov. Scott's staff about his legislative priorities all session. We are mindful of his priorities and hope he has a successful session."

If the session ends Friday without the tax break becoming law, it wil be a stinging defeat for Scott, who entered the 2013 session with only two specific goals: the tax break and a $2,500 across-the-board pay raise for Florida teachers.

-- Steve Bousquet