Despite outward signs of support, Gov. Rick Scott's administration quietly endangered a top priority of fellow Republicans in the Legislature by delaying a financial analysis needed to help justify a public-worker pension-reform plan.
The issue boiled over late last week when state House Speaker Will Weatherford had to personally call Scott and his newly minted lieutenant governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and complained that the governor's staff stopped a state agency from conducting the analysis.
“There is no question the Governor’s staff directed DMS to stop working with the House,” the state House budget chairman, Seth McKeel, said in a written statement furnished to the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times.
“The law requires the department to conduct actuary studies on all pension bills, and the hold-up would have resulted in killing pension reform without a single vote of elected officials,” McKeel, R-Lakeland, said. “Thankfully Lt. Governor Lopez-Cantera and Gov. Scott stepped in to correct the problem.”
Such direct finger-pointing from legislative leaders to the staff of a governor of the same party is unusual. The surprising tension threatens to complicate Scott's ability to steer a limited election-year agenda through the Republican Legislature heading into the lawmaking session that begins next week.
Complicating matters: Scott on Monday denied McKeel’s claims about his agency’s foot-dragging over the study, which would analyze the costs of changing pensions for most state workers who are hired in the future.
The delay has fueled speculation from Republicans that Scott’s administration wanted to kill the controversial pension-reform plan to spare the governor an election-year headache —one that would fire up left-leaning unions. However, since pension reform is a top issue for conservatives, the administration’s delay could outrage some of Scott’s Republican base.....
This could be another manifestation of the Adam Hollingsworth Effect, but it's unclear