Editorial: Veto session comes with a cost

Did Gov. Scott’s veto session yield any significant differences from the budget proposals the governor vetoed? 
Yes, but at a cost. 
The gains include a guaranteed 2.2-cent reduction in the property tax rate for residents and no increase for non-residents from last year. This was the same two-cent reduction in tax rates proposed in the budget that almost unanimously passed the House and Senate in May, but in that proposal there was no language that specifically said the savings would go back to taxpayers. 
The compromise measure also sets a benchmark health care benefit that strongly suggests individual school districts negotiate an 80/20 split on the premiums of the Gold Consumer Driver Health Plan and specific out-of-pocket expenses. The proposal largely ties the hands of local school boards, while stopping short of taking away collective bargaining. The funding will work by having the state calculate what savings a school district would yield under the reduced health care expense and subtract that amount from the state aid given to that district. Boards have some flexibility on where else they may choose to cut their budget, but cut it they will. 
The compromise also includes a measure that has all school contracts ended in 2019, which would allow for Gov. Scott’s idea of a statewide health care benefit for educators to be reconsidered. In the interim two years, a study panel will be convened to run the numbers. 
The deal will force all school districts to collectively save $13 million during the next two fiscal years, rather than the proposed $26 million per year Scott had originally championed; that’s because other measures within the compromise bill were tweaked to maintain the status quo. 
The cost? Several thousand dollars will go to pay for the one or two day special session. But the primary cost will be political: Gov. Scott threw down a last-minute challenge that many Democrats saw as ill-conceived and poorly carried out, necessitating a veto session when this discussion could have occurred during the regular session if only Scott had clarified his objections and proposals sooner. The challenge also showed that Scott, in the face of a large legislative majority held by Democrats, is willing to play hardball. 
But that is a two-way street. Knowing this, you can be sure Democrats will adopt a more defensive, and offensive, game plan for major pieces of legislation in the sessions to come. Gov. Scott will no longer be seen as Mr. Nice Guy. 
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Angelo Lynn

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