The Florida House and Senate swore in members, named new leadership, and addressed the problems facing the state. Florida Speaker of the House Ray Sansom set the mood, saying, “businesses are laying off longtime employees, and families are facing foreclosures on their homes at a rate that we've never seen before in this state. members, we have our work cut out for us.”
The problem is about to get worse. By the end of the week state economists are expected to announce another billion dollar budget shortfall. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer has been calling for a special session, saying lawmakers need to handle this year’s budget problems as soon as possible.
If lawmakers are called back to Tallahassee to balance the budget, Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson says he’ll fight to keep education off the chopping block.
Republican Lawmakers say nothing is off the table. Representative Will Weatherford, Republican from Pasco, Florida, says “I don’t want to say that anything is immune from cuts at this point, I think it’s too early to say that.
We values education and will protect it as much as we can.”
And how much education will be protected will be left up the Republican led legislature, which has had more of an appetite for cutting the budget than raising taxes.
The governor is still waiting for state economists to release their official budget predictions this Friday, before he makes up his minds on a special session.