Crist urged to be careful on budget vetoes
Gov. Charlie Crist will sign a pared-down state budget this week, and his recent statements suggest he will veto some cuts approved by his fellow Republicans in the Legislature. That will not only force lawmakers to dig for more money, but could strain Crist's relationships with key legislators with the spring session just a few weeks away.
Case in point: Sen. JD Alexander. The Winter Haven Republican, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, is troubled by the possibility that Crist may veto budget cuts to a merit pay program for teachers or a one-year moratorium on land buying under the Florida Forever program. More broadly, some lawmakers see themselves being painted as the villains for slashing popular programs, only to watch Crist ride to the rescue with his veto pen.
"It's easy to go out and demagogue these issues, and pander to folks, but the Senate and House are constitutionally required to make this work," Alexander said.
As for Florida Forever, Alexander said: "We wouldn't undertake that kind of action without a pretty clear understanding with the House and Senate and governor's office as to how they felt ...I think he (Crist) should be careful in thinking this through, and he will be."
Crist's staffers reportedly had a different concept of how the Florida Forever cut would be implemented. Told of Alexander's comments, Crist communications director Erin Isaac declined to comment.