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Legislature Begins Under Cloudy Skies

March 2nd, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida lawmakers began their annual 60-day session today, uncertain about the economy and state revenues. The day began with bipartisan action to prevent a huge tax hike to businesses, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, some in the GOP are already taking shots at others in their own party.

As the gavels started the 60-day session, there were fewer flowers on desks, a sure sign of the economy. Even the opening prayer got uncharacteristically political.

“Spending money we do not have has enslaved us,” Dr. Mark Cummins with the Ocala Church of Hope said.”We alone created this economic crisis.”

Amid patriotic songs, House Speaker Larry Cretul talked of being more open…and in one breath appeared to take a shot at Governor Charlie Crist’s insistence on using Seminole Gambling cash to fund education.

“If those dollars do come to us, then we’ll put them to good use, but we won’t base our budget on a wink and a prayer,” Cretul said.

And in another rare move for an opening day, the House passed a bill with lightning speed, delaying a hike in unemployment taxes.

“It’s a good example of how, with bipartisan cooperation, we can get things done,” Rep. Ron Saunders (D-Key West) said.

Some argue the House is being two faced…borrowing Federal cash to avoid the hike, then criticizing the feds for spending too much.

“I would say it’s hypocrisy,” Rep. Darren Soto (D-Orlando) said. “Let’s just call it what it is. We cannot on one hand take the bailout money and on the other hand criticize and slap people around.”

So, while day one started with harmony, the next 59 days are likely to be anything but.

For those who rely on the state, it’s going to be hectic, nerve racking and unpredictable.

The session runs through April 30th.

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