Wanting to ensure Florida’s 4,200 K-12 public schools can “keep the lights on and keep the doors open” after June 30, the Florida Senate took the unusual step on Wednesday of voting to override a veto by Gov. Rick Scott.
Not because the senators particularly like the spending level they approved last month.
They just don’t have high hopes they’ll reach compromise with the House during a special session this week on how to pay for at least $215 million in additional funding Scott asked the Legislature to approve.
“In consultation with [President Joe Negron, R-Stuart] and other Senate leaders, we think it’s really important that we give the public confidence that our public schools will be open,” Senate budget chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said on the floor.
He added that the Senate doesn’t want “to be responsible ... for getting into a situation where we leave town and we do not have funding in place” for schools.
But the procedural votes by the Senate — which came with little opposition — will have little practical impact.
The House has no intention of following the Senate’s lead and restoring the K-12 funding Scott vetoed even as a temporary safeguard, Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, told reporters.
“They want to go back and play hide the ball with the voters,” Corcoran said. “So they’re saying, ‘OK, we’re going to try to look like the good guys in that we didn’t veto K-12 educational funding, and so we’re going to do the veto override.’ ”
Corcoran accuses the Senate of seeking “a massive tax increase” by proposing to pay for the extra K-12 funding in part through property taxes from new construction. He said the Senate’s override was an attempt to “mask” that goal, and he dismissed the potential of the special session collapsing.
“I think we’ll absolutely get to a point when the better judgment of all will prevail and the funding for K-12 education will happen — and it will happen without a massive tax increase,” Corcoran said.
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