"There's tons of people hurting.....but some cuts had to made and our only mandate is to balance the budget and we had to do those very difficult things," said Williams.Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, also says difficult decisions were made but the legislature did the very best it could in light of declining state revenue.
Lawmakers cut $4 billion in spending resulting in a $69.7 billion budget. Gov. Rick Scott then cut another $615 million. Aubuchon says he was disappointed by some of the governor's cuts, especially to higher education in Southwest Florida.
"Certainly the cuts to FGCU and Edison State College are two in particular. The health sciences building at FGCU that just needed a few million more (dollars) to complete -- I think to have that not open and sit fallow is sad," he said.
A new poll indicates Scott is the nation's least popular governor, but Aubuchon says if the economy turns around, so could those poll numbers. Aubuchon, who was elected to the state House in 2006, said he believes the GOP majority will be retained in the 2012 election.
Rep. Ken Roberson, R-Port Charlotte, said he's glad the session is over and that lawmakers were able to come up with a balanced budget. He says he regrets job losses resulting from government spending cuts, but that the point is to make Florida more business friendly.
Roberson, who was first elected to the legislature in 2008, said he isn't placing bets on the balance of power in Tallahassee after the 2012 election.
"We'll just have to see but I think it all depends if the economy turns around. The turnaround has been slower than we'd like for it to see. From our perspective things are getting better but it's just slower that than we'd like it to be," he said.All the members of Southwest Florida's legislative delegation are Republicans. Next year's legislative session will begin Jan. 10, two months earlier than in previous years, so lawmakers can deal with redistricting changes in a timely manner.