Gov. Rick Scott pulled off a surprise with his unexpected appearance last week before the House Finance & Tax Committee, which was already enthusiastic about his proposal to cut taxes by $1 billion next year.
For Scott, the House is friendly turf. The Republican governor faces a much tougher selling job in the Senate, and he's being asked to make his case there, too. Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, told the Times/Herald that the governor will be asked to testify next month before the Senate Finance & Tax Committee.
"I think that's good. I think that's healthy. Hopefully, he'll take us up on that," Gardiner said. "In the Senate, we have 40 very independent individuals ... There should be respect for that."
The panel's next meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 11, the day before the official opening of the 2016 legislative session.
As usual, Scott's priorities and the Senate's don't match up. For example, in his last session of a 15-year career, Gardiner said he wants to reduce the lengthy waiting list for services at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.
"I want to see as many people taken off that list as I can before I leave," Gardiner said.
Scott's tax cut plan, largely targeted to help businesses, is in trouble in the Senate because all the tax cuts would be recurring rather than for one year, which means a chunk of state general tax revenue will disappear forever. Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, who a decade ago insisted that the state's budgeting include a long-range outlook, warned about the perils of tax cuts at a hearing last week.
"Our economy is not growing fast enough in the state to sustain the levels of tax cuts that we've had an appetite for," Lee said.