Deal between Gov. Scott, lawmakers, would boost education dollars

Miami-Dade prosecutor Katherine Fernandez Rundle wants Gov. Rick Scott to veto a sweep of a state attorneys fund

"I hope and I believe we figured out a way that we can continue to do what we all agree with, " said Governor Rick Scott in Miami Friday, standing side by side with his chief political rival House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

A laundry list of disagreements between Gov. Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers has apparently been ironed out, with a deal that will have Scott signing next year's state budget, with a caveat that lawmakers return for a special session next week to make changes he wants.

The legislation is a top priority for Corcoran and would steer more state and local money to privately-run charter schools by creating a $140 million "Schools of Hope" program.

The deal also will fund Visit Florida, the state's tourism promotion agency, to the tune of $76 million.

"It may be a step forward, if we get the funding - but then a bigger step backward" if HB 7069 is signed into law, Hillsborough County schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins said.

Enterprise Florida's board of directors are trying to accentuate the positives at their meeting in Tallahassee this week. In the budget passed May 8, lawmakers did not provide money for economic-development incentives and included $25 million for Visit Florida.

Scott was done vetoing $310 million out of Florida's $82.4 billion budget this week, Flagler County had paid a steep price.




As lawmakers prepare for next week's special session, one issue that remains up in the air is medical marijuana.

Scott wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner that he vetoed the citrus canker money due to ongoing litigation.

Enterprise Florida leaders said they've heard of such talks for weeks, but remain focused on the spending plan that lawmakers delivered to Scott. "I listened closely to what they had to say, and I understand that both positions have merit".

While VISIT FLORIDA's funding would increase under the new deal, the agency also would face tough transparency standards for its contracts, including legislative oversight for deals worth $750,000 or more. Scott called both essential pistons in Florida's economy.

Scott vetoed state funding for a number of private colleges because the schools had recently raised tuition, a move that has often drawn the governor's ire.

And although the new budget bill passed overwhelmingly, an override could be blocked by Senate Democrats, who control 15 of 39 now occupied seats and could use their leverage to increase spending on public schools.

Additionally, legislative leaders have said they would use a special session on the budget to try to resolve an impasse over legislation enacting the November constitutional amendment on medical marijuana.

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