House Speaker Richard Corcoran said his chamber is a force to be reckoned with, calling the Florida House of Representatives the “storm” in the Florida Legislature while setting up a potential battle with the governor over the state’s annual budget for 2018.
Speaking to the Florida House in Tallahassee on Tuesday, Corcoran pointed to what he saw as a legacy of productivity and hard work for the people of Florida.
Corcoran said the House would remain steadfast in its opposition to tax hikes to protect average Floridians.
“First, the Florida House will never support raising taxes on any person or any business -- ever,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran reiterated he would not support a tax hike on local property taxes to increase funding for Florida’s schools, a position Gov. Rick Scott supports in order to bump up money for the state’s K-12 public school system.
Throughout the address, Corcoran seemed to take a hard-line approach when it came to the state’s budget and potential tax increases, setting the stage for a possible showdown with both the governor and the Senate moving into the next 60 days.
“We will debate the issue [of tax increases] around the state because any person in any community, in any city, in any county – their answer – the truth - will be the same. It’s a tax increase,” Corcoran said. “When a taxpayer is forced to pay more money this year than last year – through no action of their own - it’s a tax increase. It’s a tax increase today on January 9. It will be a tax increase on March 9. It will be a tax increase on June 29.”
Corcoran reiterated his support for promoting a high-quality education system, highlighting the need for legislators to keep the needs of students in mind as they navigated the next two months.
“We will continue to fight and fight so that every child, regardless of demographics, is afforded a world class education,” he told his fellow lawmakers.
Part of the state’s promotion of a high quality education system, Corcoran said, will come from protecting Florida’s children, many of whom are subjected to bullying inside and outside the classroom.
One of Corcoran’s top priorities during the 2018 legislative session is a measure to establish a “Hope Scholarship” for victims of bullying, allowing them to transfer to a public or private school after filing a complaint.
“We will end this horror for all children,” Corcoran said. “No one will ever be trapped again.”
Corcoran, who is widely rumored to be contemplating a run for governor this year, has made his mark in Florida politics for his “do-or-die” style of politics. Last year, he and the governor engaged in all-out political warfare over Scott’s tourism and economic incentive programs, Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.
At the time, Corcoran dubbed the programs “economic waste,” but both were eventually funded in the 2017 budget when Corcoran and Scott struck a deal last summer.
In spite of the clash, Corcoran appeared ready to stick to his guns, vowing to remain consistent and stay on the path in what he viewed as a path to progress for all Floridians.
“We can – and we should – do more,” Corcoran said. “As we did last session, we’ll hear lots of reasons why it isn’t possible...the status quo, business-as-usual crowd will try to drown out the drumbeat of reform. They will be, as in the story, like Fate coming upon the army and saying to them, “You can’t do this; you cannot withstand the coming storm.’”
To his fellow lawmakers, Corcoran had one simple message -- don’t back down.
“When they tell you that, tell them, “You don’t understand. This is the Florida House,’” he said. “We are the storm.”
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