Speaker Cretul's news conference
House Speaker Larry Cretul's first news conference in weeks partly made up for lost time, as he patiently took questions for 27 minutes. He revealed that he and Senate President Jeff Atwater have talked a lot and agreed on budget details in private, including a smaller pay-cut package for state workers that will save $40-million (universities excluded).
On his support for a $1-a-pack cigarette tax hike, even though he signed Grover Norquist's no-new-taxes pledge: "Responsible people at times may have to do something that might be different than the position they staked out. And to be so closed-minded, I don't think that's the right thing to do and it doesn't serve the citizens of the state of Florida. I'm sure that Mr, Norquist will have a comment when I cast my vote. So be it."
On a lack of money for the Florida Forever land-buying program: "That one's gone."
On the lack of pork-barrel projects: "The pig's kind of lean." He said the Senate refused to agree with the House on a blanket ban on member project.
On having to return next week to finish the budget: "We want to do it right, not necessarily do it in a rushed manner."
[Photos: Scott Keeler, Times]