Rubio cautious but hopeful on PIP
House Speaker Marco Rubio is in Tallahassee and fielded questions from no less than 15 reporters on Indian gaming, PIP, property insurance, property taxes, the budget, Bob Allen, even the UF student who got Tasered.
Told of Gov. Charlie Crist's comments earlier about considering adding PIP to the special session call, Rubio sounded cautious. "You can add whatever you want to the call but if you don’t have a bill or something you’re going to do, then what’s the point of adding it to the call?" He went on to say there is significant progress on the issue but something must be done to fix fraud. "There isn't some note in my pocket that says it must be these things. The important thing is it has to be a meaningful look at fraud. Maybe I’m a little bit jaded in that regard because I’m from South Florida where there’s a lot of it."
Rubio also agreed, albeit carefully, with Jeb Bush's criticism (see below) over the state's property insurance. He acknowledged the special circumstances facing Florida but added, "I personally have always said that I'm concerned about the expansion of Citizens, not just form an intellectual, idelogical standpoint but from a practical one. You now have the state of Florida as the single largest home insurer in the state and then some and growing at a massive rate. I think that has serious economic implications when we are impacted by a major catastrophic storm."
On the Indian gaming compact, Rubio re-stated his belief that the Legislature has a right to vote on the deal. (Crist says otherwise but that he will solicit feedback.) But when asked how far he would push that viewpoint, Rubio demurred. "That’s a first year error," the second-year speaker said, laughing. "I don’t speculate in my second year. ... We're no there yet. … He understands our position, he understands where we stand. .. But now he’s got to negotiate a deal. He’s got a tough job."
On the budget cuts, "I think there's an understanding that the cuts will probably be targeted at this point" not across the board.
On property taxes, Rubio said he supports the amendment and cannot see why someone would walk away from the largest tax cut in state history. He said he did not think the bill could be tweaked before the Jan. 29 vote. Rubio also foreshadowed a meeting tomorrow in which a coalition could detail plans for future tax proposals. With a smile, he declined to say more. Still, Rubio believes strongly in the "tax swap" to eliminate property taxes on primary homes in favor of higher sales tax.
On Rep. Bob Allen, who could be in town for the special session: "He's a member of the Florida House, he's entitled to come ... He's got some serious issues he's trying to face and we'll do what's best for the institution." Left unsaid was Rubio has already stripped the Merritt Island Republican of his committee assignments and moved his seat back, next to a Democrat.
Oh, and UF alum Rubio used humor to deflect a question on the Taser incident. "What do I think about it? I don't know, what was the (student) saying? ... He just asked the question and they Tasered him?"
Reporter: It was a long question.
Rubio: "Oh, well if it was a long question ..."