House Democrats running out of reasons to vote no on budget
In Tallahassee, it's as predictable as dogwoods in March: House Democrats will vote against the Republican majority's budget. But this year could be very different, and that speaks volumes about how awful a session this is becoming for Gov. Rick Scott.
House Democrats simply are running out of reasons to vote against the budget, and you won't likely be hearing them calling it "a tea party train wreck" as they did a few years ago.
Democrats hate big tax cuts, and Republicans don't like them this year either. Democrats don't like spending taxpayer money to lure private companies to Florida, and Republicans flatly refuse to support this signature priority of Scott's. Democrats don't like Republicans paying for a school budget increase on the backs of property taxpayers -- and Republicans changed that too. In an historic policy shift and over Scott's objections, they will pay for the boost in per-pupil spending with state tax revenue instead.
"They have responded to a lot of things that we've complained about," said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, the House minority leader. "The big difference is that they're actually putting together the kind of budget that we wanted to do."
Pafford is one of 28 House Democrats who voted against the budget when it came off the House floor Feb. 11. He and his colleagues still have one huge problem with the House budget, and that's the attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood. That provision has not yet been agreed to by the Senate.
There's a backstory to this burst of bipartisanship. House Republicans want an overwhelming vote for the budget (say, 115-5) to send a blunt signal to Scott that if he gets too aggressive with his veto pen, the House has more than the two-thirds it needs to override him. In other words, Democrats and Republicans in the House now have a common enemy: Scott.