2003 Legislative Session Gets Underway in Florida

In his annual address to the opening of the Florida legislature, Gov. Jeb Bush says the state of the state is uncertain. Bush threw cold water on the idea of a tax increase to fund smaller classes and is instead asking lawmakers to send the controversial amendment back to voters for another say.

But as Mike Vasilinda reports, the house and senate are so far apart the battle lines are drawn. From the house speaker, a mantra of no new taxes. "Let's build a state budget where we live within our means."

In the senate, a progressive president willing to look at options. "We march to our own cadence."

Enter the governor who says a pending war makes the state of the state uncertain. He wants more money for security, and money to boost tourism, and he wants voters to tell him again if they really wanted smaller classes and a high-speed rail system. "So I believe we must go back to the voters and have them make a Decision, with all the information in hand."

Bush repeatedly said during the campaign he would have to raise taxes if smaller class sizes were approved. Now he says that's not what voters meant at all. "I don't want to raise their taxes, I want them to make that Determination."

But the idea of asking for another vote has democrats angry. "Blaming our budget deficit on the fact that parents want to give their Kids a decent education, is just not accurate."

Even some key republicans are leery. "They mandated who we implemented, they knew it was going to cost revenue."

The legislative session is supposed to end in early may. "May our session calendars not extend into June or July."

But as senators toasted with orange juice a quick solution hardly seems likely. Should the legislature decide to send class size and high-speed rail back to voters, the cost of a special statewide election would about $10-million.