Q. Excuse me, cliche expert Mr. Arbuthnot, but doesn't the Florida Legislature start its annual session today?
A. Indeed it does. The Legislature meets once a year for 60 days.
Q. Isn't there an old joke about that?
A. Yes. It would be better if it met for one day once every 60 years.
Q. What is the big news this year?
A. The mood is grim. There is a big budget deficit, hole or shortfall.
Q. What must be done with this deficit, hole or shortfall?
A. It must be plugged by stern measures.
Q. What stern measures are available?
A. Belt-tightening. Stopgap. Emergency. Draconian.
Q. Will the Legislature raise taxes to plug the budget deficit, hole or shortfall?
A. This is not the time to raise taxes. Florida's government must live within its means, just like any family.
Q. When is the time to raise taxes, then?
A. I do not know, but it is not "now."
Q. If Florida's government must live within its means, then why is the Legislature taking billions of dollars in federal money at the same time that it is complaining about the federal government spending too much money?
A. Are you asking me for a cliche that involves baked goods?
A. Very well. The Legislature wishes to eat its cake and still have it.
Q. Don't you mean, "have its cake and eat it too"?
A. That is a common mistake. The proper wording is that you eat your cake and still have it, meaning, you want things both ways.
Q. Our cheerful governor, Charlie Crist, kicks off the session this evening with his State of the State speech. Can you characterize the nature of the applause he will get?
A. Polite. Lukewarm. Smattering.
Q. What will key legislators do afterward concerning the governor's budget?
A. Key legislators will decry it as unrealistic.
Q. Will they also criticize or otherwise disagree with the governor's budget?
A. Mostly they will decry it.
Q. What are the other major issues this year?
A. Texting while driving. School testing. Bigger class sizes. Wearing your pants too low. That sort of thing.
Q. Sounds like things that do not cost any money.
A. You have impacted the proverbial steel fastening pin on its broad, flat end. Also, we have to get Florida moving again. It's about jobs.
Q. Do you mean that we should loosen up Florida's rules on growth to help the construction industry, and do other favors for business?
A. You make that sound like a bad thing.
Q. What about ethics? The last speaker of the House is under criminal indictment. A grand jury blasted the way the Legislature works. The state Ethics Commission is asking for more power. What will the Legislature do?
A. It will point and say, "Hey! A bunny rabbit!" and run away when you look.
Q. What about oil drilling?
A. The push to allow oil drilling in Florida waters is stalled, slowed, on hold, has lost steam or momentum. Members may be feeling the election-year pressure.
Q. In closing, are there any new legislative cliches for 2010 you would like to use?
Q. As a matter of fact, yes. Mr. Sansom looks forward to answering every question when the time is right.