Politicians are people. People fib.
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is a politician. And on Thursday, he misled — but in the rarest of ways.
Weatherford praised someone else (Gov. Rick Scott, to be exact) for something he really deserves the greatest credit for: securing the passage of a controversial bill giving in-state college tuition rates to some Florida high school graduates who are undocumented immigrants.
“I have to say, the bill would never have passed the Florida Senate had the governor not engaged,” Weatherford said at an impromptu news conference with Scott and other politicians after the legislation passed.
However, it was Weatherford —not Scott, not anyone else in the Capitol rotunda —who most forcefully used his office to pressure the leaders of the Florida Senate to clear up a procedural impediment that stalled the legislation.
Weatherford employed the bluntest of political tools: a veiled threat to hold hostage the state’s $77.1 billion budget until the Senate un-stuck the bill.
“I will not have a budget on the desk,” Weatherford said in a phone call he placed Monday to the office of Senate President Don Gaetz, an opponent of the legislation.
Gaetz decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. The bill started moving. So did the budget, which was agreed upon, printed and placed on the desks of lawmakers.
After the tuition bill passed, Weatherford downplayed —but didn’t deny —his power play.