The first thing Richard Corcoran did after being officially elected speaker of the Florida House was excoriate lobbyists, criticize the teacher’s union and call out judges for “putting power over principle.”
In a sweeping speech, the Land O’Lakes Republican set the stage for the next two years when he will lead the 120-member chamber: New ethics rules, a budget process that has Tallahassee lobbyists on edge and Corcoran’s devotion to his own conservative ideology.
“We are only one half of one Legislature in one state, and some would say that delivering that dream back to the people of Florida is beyond our ability,” Corcoran said in prepared remarks. “But that will not stop us. The special interests will not stop us. The mainstream media will not stop us. Our own party leaders will not stop us. We will fight.”
Corcoran has caused a stir in the capital city by pushing for a new budget process that would require budget line items to be passed individually by both chambers and rules forcing lobbyists to disclose all the issues they’re trying to influence.
“Too many bills filed in Session are given to Members by lobbyists and special interests,” Corcoran said in the prepared speech. “Too many lobbyists see themselves as the true power brokers of this process. Too many appropriations projects are giveaways to vendors and the decision of whether they get in the budget has more to do with their choice of lobbyist than the merits of the project."
On education and health care, two issues he's focused on in the past and where he supports what he terms free-market innovation, Corcoran dug in against the status quo.
He called out teachers unions for fighting a lawsuit against tax credit scholarships. And he issued a call to leaders in Washington, D.C.: Let Florida lead the charge on reforming health care.