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Corcoran bashes Senate on budget

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, delivers his opening remarks to his fellow memebers on the first day of legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, delivers his opening remarks to his fellow memebers on the first day of legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) (Associated Press)

With a little more than two weeks left in the 2018 session, House Speaker Richard Corcoran on Wednesday lashed out at Senate leaders, accusing them of “stonewalling” on budget negotiations and acting like “kindergartners.”

The Senate and House passed their versions of a 2018-2019 budget on Feb. 8.

And although the $87 billion-plus spending plans were only some $100 million apart in overall funding, lawmakers have not started formal negotiations on details of the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Talking to reporters, Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, accused the Senate of refusing to share budget data that is normally exchanged at the beginning of the negotiating process.

“We don’t know what to say more to the Senate in terms of ‘Let’s start negotiations.’ They have completely stonewalled us. They’re acting like kindergarteners,” Corcoran said. “It’s just silliness. Grow up. The Senate needs to grow up.”

Corcoran blamed Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island.

“When I say the Senate, I want to be very clear. I’m talking about certain individuals,” Corcoran said. “The Senate body as a whole has been fantastic. And I know a lot of them are doing everything they can in their power to bring about a normal relationship with the other chamber.”

Bradley declined to engage with Corcoran’s criticism.

“I am not negotiating the budget through the media. Those comments are odd and unbecoming,” Bradley said in a statement released by the Senate.

Corcoran had more criticism for Senate leaders.

“They constantly play chess and checkers against themselves. Half the time I don’t even know what they’re saying,” Corcoran said. “Just shoot straight. Just sit in a room and say: ‘Here’s where we’re at, here’s where you guys are at’ and come to an agreement. It’s not rocket science.”

With the March 9 session end looming, Corcoran also suggested budget gridlock could lead to derailment of major policy bills.

“We all know how it’s going to end. If it doesn’t get resolved, the governor will call us into a special session,” Corcoran said.

He predicted a special session would focus solely on the budget, which is the only bill that lawmakers are constitutionally required to pass each year.

“That means it doesn’t include any substantive policy bills. And if that’s the case, then everyone loses. How does that make sense?” Corcoran asked.