House budget drama as Dems score brief win
UPDATE: The House Republican majority changed a few minds and prevailed on a second vote, 63-56. The House budget still includes a controversial cut in benefits to retired state workers.
With a big assist from 15 Republicans, the outnumbered 44 House Democrats scored a rare and surprising -- but brief -- victory on a contentious budget issue Thursday. By a 59-57 vote, the House defeated a budget bill that would have ended a small monthly health insurance subsidy for 300,000 retired state workers, many of whom are teachers and law enforcement personnel.
The initial vote was very close, but it was still a setback for a Republican majority that usually has no trouble nailing down votes.
The 15 Republicans who broke from the GOP leadership to vote with Democrats the first time were Reps. Janet Adkins, Kevin Ambler, Tom Anderson, Marti Coley, Greg Drake, Greg Evers, Ed Homan, Ed Hooper, Paige Kreegel, Charles McBurney, J.C. Planas, Julio Robaina, Charles Van Zant, Trudi Williams and Juan Zapata. Rep. Baxter Troutman, R-Winter Haven, voted yes the first time and no the second time.
On the second vote, Homan, Kreegel, McBurney and Williams voted yes. So did all three who missed the first vote: Reps. Sandy Adams, Eric Eisnaugle and Kurt Kelly.
A resounding round of applause erupted in the chamber as House Speaker Larry Cretul announced: "The bill fails." The bill, HB 5701, would save $224-million by eliminating the subsidy (see the analysis).