House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, says the "collegiality" in the state Capitol makes him optimistic that the 2017 session will end smoothly and on time by May 5.
(Is this the same Capitol where the House and Senate are billions apart on spending? Where Gov. Rick Scott has spent weeks deriding lawmakers as "job killers," including Corcoran and other key House Republicans?)
In an interview taped Tuesday for the Florida Channel's "Face to Face, program, Corcoran casually laughed off predictions of a May meltdown. He said Wednesday's scheduled budget debates in both houses shows forward progress and the next step is for the two chambers to agree on spending allocations, the bottom-line numbers that allow will allow House-Senate budget talks to begin.
"It's a great pace. It's a pace that says we're going to get done and we'll be able to work out our differences," Corcoran said. "If allocations can get done in five to seven days afterwards, we'll absolutely, in my opinion, get done ... There's a lot of collegiality. We recognize our differences but we also, I think, recognize where those differences can be bridged, on both sides."
Compromise is essential to the workings of the Legislature, but Corcoran's repeated and firm statements on spending, tax cuts, economic development and other issues have stoked predictions of a breakdown among lawmakers, lobbyists and the media. But the speaker says such talk is cooked up by news outlets and that his talks with the Senate have been amicable.
"What sells is conflict," Corcoran told host Beth Switzer.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, had a less rosy view. In a speech to a Republican club in Citrus County a few days ago, Latvala described Tallahassee as "contentious" and was quoted in the Citrus County Chronicle as saying of Corcoran: "He's a tough nut to crack and he's upset a lot of apple carts."
One thing hasn't changed: Corcoran's continued criticism of "the absolute grotesque waste of taxpayer money" in Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, the twin pillars of the governor's tourism and jobs agenda. The House has voted to abolish Enterprise Florida, but no similar bill exists in the Senate, and in Week 6 of the nine-week session, no Senate budget conforming bill has appeared that would be a logical place to kill EFI.