Incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has little interest in continuing the tradition/charade of recent legislative presiding officers who acted like they were BFFs totally on the same page heading into a legislative session. Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, and incoming Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, appeared together Thursday at the Sayfie Review's 2016 Leadership Forum in Orlando, where clear dividing lines and tensions were on display.
"I don't think the speaker-designate will get along very well with the president-elect," Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring said after listening to the two Republican leaders cordially talk about their priorities and philosophies for the next session.
The next House Speaker sounded adamant that he will clamp down on spending that he depicted as out of control. The next Senate President said limiting spending is important, but so is investing Florida's quality of life.
"We should be frugal, we should be reasonable, but our state does need infrastructure," said Negron, noting that Floridians have among the lowest tax burdens and that he is proud of his role helping fund a senior center in his community. "Cultural funding, museums. libraries, making sure we have places where people can meet, I do think those are important" in attracting millennials to Florida.
"That's going to be a big difference between the two chambers of the next two years," retorted Corcoran, who lamented that "every single legislator spends money like a teenager in a mall with a first time credit card."
When Negron later suggested that give and take is important between the two chambers, Corcoran neither nodded nor spoke in agreement. The next Senate President said improving Lake Okeechobee, increasing higher education funding and graduation rates and trying to provide more Floridians more access to health insurance through Medicaid are among his priorities.
Corcoran was less specific. "We're going to govern unabashedly principled and unabashedly conservative," he said. "That creates tensions, that creates internal strife."
--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times