By Ralph De La Cruz
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Now the fun really begins. The kids are at the cash register, and it’s time to settle up.
For eight weeks, Republicans have behaved like little kids whose parents have given them a grocery list and a $100 bill and asked them to buy the family groceries. Don’t forget the jobs, the adults reminded them.
But the kids ran right past the jobs section, trashed the education aisle and spent all their time in the anti-abortion and union-busting departments, using super majorities to run over, through and around the public’s store. To grab whatever goodies they wanted: leadership slush funds, high-calorie property insurance giveaways, the sweet payoff of prison privatization and, of course, the guilty pleasure of drug testing poor people.
What fun. But hey! Y’all better not say “uterus” or you’re going to be in big trouble.
Now it’s time to check out, and they’re standing there with a bunch of empty candy wrappers and no meat or veggies. And the leader of the pack of crumbsnatchers is still complaining he didn’t get the tax break for his rich friends, or that case of court packing he really wanted.
Meanwhile, the adults are waiting at the other side of the counter, arms crossed with a “where are the jobs?” scowl on their face.
Yep. It’s the final week of the legislative session. The time when the Senate and the House of Representatives have to reconcile their differences and actually pass a state budget.
And the squabbling among Republicans — Democrats don’t matter — is becoming interesting.
There’s going to be slashing. The only question is how much and what?
Senate President Mike Haridopolos is eager to have all this resolved so he can get on with a campaign for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s seat. And House Speaker Dean Cannon is using that political fulcrum as leverage to gain an upper hand in negotiations — particularly his desire to place a constitutional amendment before voters that would split the Supreme Court into two divisions, giving Gov. Rick Scott the opportunity to name three new judges.
You see, like so many others, Cannon understands that Republicans aren’t likely to continue to have super majorities. Not after they — and CEO-in-chief Scott — used those super majorities to do everything except the one thing they promised voters they’d do: namely, spur job growth.
The next time there’s an election and the Rs trot out that tired old line about, “Let’s get back to work,” voters are going to know the only people Republicans were talking about were themselves. The next time they talk about less-intrusive government and no taxes, women and college students are going to say, “Huh? What you talking about, Willis?”
And it could get really exciting if — during this session when there’s not enough money for public education, mental health, teachers and public employees – Cannon isn’t able to deliver on Scott’s promise to cut the already meager state corporate tax.
If he doesn’t get his way, the CEO-in-chief has hinted he may veto the budget of the Republican super-majority.