With Latvala alongside, Rick Scott renews threat to veto budget
MIAMI -- Gov. Rick Scott blasted the Florida Legislature again Monday for refusing to support VISIT Florida's tourism marketing efforts and he again floated the threat of vetoing the entire budget.
At a press conference at Jungle Island, a Miami tourist attraction, Scott was joined by Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who joined in the governor's criticism and said he hopes Scott calls a special session that would restore VISIT Florida's money.
"Wasn't my call, or we'd still be sitting in Tallahassee today," Latvala said.
Latvala voted for a budget (SB 2500) that eliminates all money for VISIT Florida for next year and zeroes out money for Enterprise Florida's job incentive programs. VISIT Florida would get $25 million only if Scott allows a separate budget conforming bill to become law that also imposes strict fiscal controls over the program for the first time. If Scott vetoes that bill, VISIT Florida gets no money. Latvala was one of eight senators who voted against that bill (HB 5501).
"I'm hopeful that the governor will exercise his prerogative, will call us back to Tallahassee and will make us do the right thing for economic development in Florida and for education in Florida," Latvala said in Miami.
"I've got a lot of options," Scott told reporters. "I can veto the whole budget. I can veto a portion of the budget, a line of the budget. And I can do a special session. So I'm looking at those options."
Historically, legislative leaders facing a special session prefer to control the agenda by issuing a joint proclamation themselves and not deferring to the governor, who may have a very different agenda. Special sessions generally collapse in failure unless the governor and two legislative leaders have alreayd reached a consensus on the outcome.
Latvala again called it a mistake for the Legislature to have followed House Speaker Richard Corcoran's lead in dramatically reducing VISIT Florida's budget. "I've spent my life in the business world and owning by own business, and I know that when you stop advertising, when you stop marketing, you start dying," Latvala said.
-- With reporting by Martin Vassolo, Miami Herald