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Gov. Bush Disappointed by Rancor Over Budget-Cutting

November 01, 2001|Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Just as he embarks on a reelection bid, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is confronting dissent among fellow Republicans over a special session to address a budget shortfall.

The president's younger brother called the session to make cuts and other measures to address the $1.3-billion deficit.

On Wednesday, a clearly exasperated Bush said he was disappointed at the level of rancor during the session.

"The folks sitting around the kitchen table probably are a little bit confused about what happened. . . . I am," Bush said. "We need to do better going forward."

Many Republicans were already disappointed their governor made them return for a costly special session before there was agreement in the ranks.

"I always believe it is a mistake to go into a special session when you don't know how you're going to get out," House Speaker Tom Feeney said. "The governor has some tough decisions to make."

Lawmakers came up with some $800 million in cuts, a good half-billion dollars less than the shortfall. And now Bush is faced with the possibility of vetoing their work.

"This is the first time in decades a governor has refused to take any responsibility for the state budget," Senate Democratic Leader Tom Rossin said.

Bush and Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan lobbied lawmakers heavily over the weekend but failed to persuade legislative leaders to put aside their differences.

"There is some bitterness that needs to be worked on," Bush said.

Bush is seeking to become the first Republican governor to win a second term in Florida. He leads the best-known Democratic candidate, former U.S. Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, by more than 2-to-1 in recent polls.

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