The Florida legislative session will end Monday with a very disappointing outcome for Gov. Rick Scott, with Enterprise Florida virtually broke and spending for tourism promotion at its lowest point in years -- a stunning rejection of Scott's priorities in his next-to-last year in office.
In addition, the Legislature ignored Scott's third priority, a $200 million fix for the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee, which he requested late in the session with an added flourish of saying President Donald J. Trump was on board.
That's three strikes. But things could have turned out very differently.
Multiple sources report that about two weeks ago, House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, walked down to the governor's office, met with Scott's chief of staff, Kim McDougal, and offered a compromise. The House would agree to give VISIT Florida $75 million, with $100 million for the dike project this year and $100 million next year, but Enterprise Florida would get no money. In addition, the House encouraged Scott to veto every single hometown project in the budget (which could still happen).
"Go forth and veto boldly," remains House Speaker Richard Corcoran's advice to Scott, as he told the Times/Herald.
A Capitol lobbyist with knowledge of the transaction urged Scott to take the deal and claim victories in two of his three priorities, but he didn't. The sources said McDougal responded a day or so later with a counterproposal that was essentially what Scott wanted all along: $100 million for VISIT Florida, $200 million for the dike and $100 million for Enterprise Florida, all of which the House rejected.
The House's offer is surprising considering the high level of animosity between Corcoran and Scott.
Scott's office disputed this account and used the opportunity to once again criticize the Legislature.
"We did not reject a negotiated deal," said Scott's spokeswoman, Jackie Schutz, in a carefully worded statement. "Instead of worrying about trades and deals, the Legislature should focus on getting their one constitutional duty done: a budget that actually invests in priorities to help Florida families."
The new $83 billion budget was completed late Thursday in time for a scheduled Monday adjournment, one day late.
Scott on Friday wraps up a three-day, 10-city road show he calls "Fighting for Florida's Future" in Panama City, where he predicts the Legislature's decisions will hurt the state's economy and cause hundreds of thousands of people to lose their jobs.