Now that the dust has settled and lawmakers have returned home to their districts following the close of the regular legislative session earlier this week, a sense of uncertainty echoes through the empty halls of the state Capitol–uncertainty about the budget and the implementation of a medical marijuana amendment.
That uncertainty is likely to result in at least one special session.
Speculation continues over the fate of the Legislature’s $82.4 billion dollar budget passed by lawmakers Monday night and what might be in store for the spending plan once it reaches the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.
Scott was angered that legislative leaders, specifically House Speaker Richard Corcoran, pushed for cuts to some of the governor’s budget priorities, including Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency, and Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency. Scott considers both to be essential for the continued growth of the state’s economy.
At the very least, it’s expected the governor could use his veto pen to slash a number of items from the budget plan in retaliation for the Legislature not funding his priorities. Scott could also veto the entire spending plan and bring lawmakers back to Tallahassee for a special session.
“I am beginning to review the budget and I have the option of vetoing the entire budget or vetoing the items that circumvented the transparent process and do not have an acceptable return on investment for hardworking taxpayers,” Scott said earlier this week. “Just like I do every year, I will make my decisions based on what’s best for our families because my job is to wake up every day and fight for Floridians.”
A complete budget veto raises another uncertainty: would Scott be able to hold off a veto override which would require a two-thirds vote by lawmakers. The House and Senate both passed the budget by more than a two-thirds vote meaning Scott could have a tough time avoiding an override if he decides to veto the entire budget.
There is also uncertainty over a bill to implement Amendment 2–the medical marijuana amendment–that voters overwhelmingly approved back in November. Lawmakers were unable to reach agreement on an implementing bill and both Senate President Joe Negron and Speaker Corcoran this week suggested calling lawmakers back for a special session to work out a deal on how to implement the amendment.
For now, it appears lawmakers will likely return to Tallahassee for a special session. How many special sessions and for what? Well, that’s uncertain.