Senate Democrats are prepared to work with Gov. Rick Scott to block an override of a veto if he rejects the sweeping education reform bill pushed by House leaders in the final days of session and sold as a take-it or leave-it budget deal, Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon told the Herald/Times.
Pressure is mounting for the governor to veto HB 7069, and potentially the entire K-12 budget, and the 15-member Senate Democratic caucus will play a key role in making sure the Republican-controlled Legislature doesn't override that veto.
"We have to have a reason to override,'' Braynon of Miami Gardens said, referring to his Democratic colleagues. "It would depend on what the veto message looks like and if his vetoes include a bunch of things that matter to Democrats, then we're not going to override. We're willing to come back and work."
The Senate would need 26 votes to override the governor's veto and, with Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala openly suggesting he would support a veto, plus the three Republican senators who voted against the bill, the numbers won't add up if the Senate Democrats hold most of their 15 members.
"We want to see a change in RLE and FEFP,'' Braynon said. "We're not against funding Visit Florida. If the Republicans ask for an override of 7069, we're not going to do it. If they want an override of the whole budget, we will withhold our judgment on overriding until we see what happens."
He said that the opportunity presents the governor with a rare opportunity to work with Democrats and Democrat-aligned groups, such as the teachers union. He noted that after former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed SB 6 in 2010, a bill that would have linked teacher pay to student test scores, the Florida Education Association endorsed him for U.S. Senate over Kendrick Meek, the father of the class-size amendment.
"This sets up an opportunity for him," Braynon said, adding. "I haven't always agreed with the governor but I'm willing to keep trying. I can find common ground with anybody."
Photo credit: Scott Keeler, Tampa Bay Times