TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — With a week left in the legislative session and the outlook still uncertain for Gov. Rick Scott's top priorities, it was time for the governor to apply some pressure.
So far, he's 0-3 on his main requests: Expand Medicaid to insure some of the state's poorest residents; give school teachers an across-the-board $2,500 pay raise; and pass a tax cut for manufacturers.
In a bit of political arm-twisting, Scott suggested he might start vetoing projects dear to key legislators. That would expose an intraparty feud between the Republican governor and the GOP-dominated Legislature.
"We're starting to see what's coming out in the budget: A lot of special member projects," Scott said in an interview taped Thursday for Tallahassee.com. "I'll be looking at each of those ... and waiting to hear about return on investment.
"I ran on a campaign of holding state government accountable," he said. "My job is to watch how your money is spent."
Other big items left undecided — again, so far — include bills to help the Miami Dolphins renovate the team's stadium and a revamp of property insurance.
Lawmakers have until 11:59 p.m. Friday to pass a proposed $74 billion budget.
But leaders of both chambers remain optimistic. They stress there's plenty of time to forge compromises and get things done.
"I would just say this: Getting legislation passed is not about getting your way, it's about getting a way forward," Senate President Don Gaetz said.
"Speaker Weatherford has helped me understand that the Senate can't always get the Senate's way," he said. "Getting things done requires bringing people of good faith together."
Added Weatherford: "When we have differences between our chambers, we work through them.
"There are a lot of issues where there's a little bit of yardage between us, but we have faith that we don't allow those differences to bleed into other issues," Weatherford said. "We find ways to find a place in the middle."
Finding the middle, however, is proving vexsome. Here's a look at some of the unresolved issues:
— Health insurance for the state's needy.
House Republicans are rejecting an expansion of Medicaid that would use federal money under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul plan. Instead, they back a plan that would provide health coverage to about 115,000 residents. It would use $237 million in state funds to give recipients $2,000 a year to choose their own private insurance plans.
The main Senate proposal, led by Sen. Joe Negron, uses federal dollars and would give vouchers to more than a million residents to purchase their own private insurance.
Scott supports Negron's plan, saying that rejecting federal funds and ponying up state dollars for health coverage puts a double burden on Florida taxpayers.
A compromise plan pushed by Republican Rep. Mike Fasano, would have used a mix of federal and state dollars to provide health coverage to about 1.1 million. That plan died in the House earlier this month.
With the House majority seemingly entrenched about not taking any federal money, it's uncertain where a deal lies.
— Teacher pay raise.
Lawmakers agreed to set aside money for the teacher pay raise. But they've insisted the raise be tied to teacher performance instead of giving the same raise to all teachers.
Scott says all of Florida's teachers deserve a raise because the state's national education rankings have gone up.
In the meantime, teachers unions sued the state over performance evaluations that grade Florida's teachers on subjects and students they don't teach, calling the system "arbitrary, irrational and unfair."
The suit challenges the 2011 Student Success Act. Its evaluation system is partly based on scores from the high-stakes Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The evaluations are used to set performance-based salary schedules.
— Manufacturing tax break.