Governor Rick Scott is calling on state officials to get a budget done, as well as federal House and Senate leaders to get back to the table and reform health care.
Budget waiting game
Governor Rick Scott says the clock is ticking for the House and Senate to get a budget on his desk by May 5th — the end of the legislative session.
The governor is leading the charge for the higher budget, which includes raises for teachers and law enforcement, as well as tax breaks for veterans.
In Florida, there are 1.5 million veterans with needs.
“We know that 35 percent of our veterans that still are in need of services,” said Al Carter, Florida Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
That’s why Scott wants next year’s budget to continue a tax-free holiday for veterans.
“I think we need to keep doing everything we can to make sure veterans want to live here,” Scott said.
“I think a three-day holiday would be great,” said Mary Sivright of Fort Myers.
“A lot of veterans like me are on a limited income,” said Dale Clever of Fort Myers.
They say a tax break is a big help.
“We have plenty of money. We have a $2.9 billion dollar surplus,” Scott said.
That’s why he wants the House and Senate to includes raises for teachers and law enforcement.
“I want to get pay raises for our corrections workers. I want to make sure we have more counter-terrorism experts in FDLE.”
A budget that calls for helping many Florida residents.
“It’s about time they’re doing something for us,” said Jeane Nato of Lehigh Acres.
But the governor admits time is running out to get it all done.
“The legislature has one job and that is to get a budget done. I’m hopeful that is what they’ll do,” Scott said.
They have until May 5th to get it done as the current budget expires July 1st.
If all sides can’t make these deadlines, it’s possible they may have to hold a special session that would cost all taxpayers more money.
Healthcare back on track
This despite comments from the president to let health care implode. Before fixing it though, Scott told us he’s willing to help reach a compromise.
Governor Scott has met privately with President Donald Trump to discuss health care reform.
He told us there are certain things he wants to see included in a new bill. He also makes it clear it isn’t an option to do nothing.
“When something doesn’t go right the first time, you don’t just shut down. So the fact that they didn’t get this done the first time, you can’t just stop,” Scott said.
Scott talking about health care reform after Trump said let it destroy itself. The governor says that’s not an option and most taxpayers we talked with agree.
“I agree with Governor Rick Scott. I think they need to get back to work and take care of the taxpayers. That’s their job,” said Valerie Duva of Fort Myers.
Duva accused lawmakers of turning their backs on taxpayers.
“I feel they have let us down and they need to solve the problem,” Duva said.
The governor volunteered to help both sides do that.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure we get something done.”
“I think it’s time for them to get back to work and get it figured out. That’s what we’re paying them for,” said Cheryl Larson.
Scott will suggest a bill that includes selling insurance across state lines and rewarding people for taking care of themselves.
“We have to figure out how to get everyone high-quality health care,” Scott said.
Taxpayers, like Tim Lanham, say not doing so could mean big economic problems for Florida and the nation.
“There’s just too much at risk not to fix it right now. It’s one-sixth of our economy, so it’s got to be fixed for sure,” he said.
But how soon that may be is still unknown.
Some House Republican leaders say they’re optimistic about a second chance to reform health care.
It’s likely they’ll make an attempt after the Easter recess.
The challenge is to please both moderate and conservative Republicans that blocked the first attempt in late March.
Gov talks budget waiting game, health care in Fort Myers stop