As Florida lawmakers begin a special session in Tallahassee today to address a budget agreement between Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders, voters in state Senate President Joe Negron‘s Treasure Coast-Palm Beach district are getting mailers from a newly formed Illinois-based PAC criticizing Negron’s role in an education bill that’s closely identified with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes.
HB 7069 promotes charter schools and has drawn the wrath of teacher unions and others who say it will weaken traditional public schools. After passage by the House and Senate, it’s up to Scott to sign or veto the bill, which was a top priority of Corcoran.
Corcoran softened his hard-line opposition to funding business and tourism incentives and agreed to increase public school funding in the budget deal with Scott. Many Tallahassee watchers believe Corcoran moved toward Scott’s position on the budget in exchange for a pledge from the governor to sign HB 7069. Scott, however, said he’s still reviewing Corcoran’s bill.
Negron, a Republican from Stuart, also supports HB 7069.
The mailer from a group called SunshinePac from Evanston, Illinois, criticizes HB 7069 and focuses on Negron rather than Corcoran.
SunshinePac was formed May 25 as a federal committee, according to Federal Election Committee records. It is headed by John Hennelly, a former Florida director for the Service Employees International Union who’s now a consultant with the liberal Chicago-based firm Democracy Partners.
Donors to SunshinePac won’t be revealed until the organization files its first FEC report in July.
“What has politician Joe Negron been up to in Tallahassee this Session? Making backroom deals and our schools are paying the price,” says one side of the mailer, which shows a picture of Negron and Corcoran but doesn’t identify the House speaker.
“Behind closed doors, Joe Negron and his friends in Tallahassee passed HB 7069 which takes away much needed funding to our public schools,” the other side of the mailer says. It urges recipients to “Call Governor Rick Scott…and tell him to VETO Negron’s Deal (HB 7069) and stand up for our students!”
Negron is Senate president through 2018. He’s been mentioned as a potential candidate for attorney general (a position he briefly sought in 2006), but said Tuesday: “I’m completely focused on being Senate president right now.”