There's no doubting that this session of the Florida Legislature has gone _ so far _ smoother than last year. No fiery speeches on the chamber floors over Medicaid expansion. No threats of walk-offs. No steely stares when asked questions from the media about closed-door caucus meetings.
But the big question with just 23 days left is simple: Can this truce last?
And when you talk to legislative leaders and other insiders it remains an open-ended question _ even in an election year when everyone just wants to go home as soon as possible.
The 2016 legislative session began with the House and Senate embracing the top priorities of both House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner as lawmakers quickly passed bills dealing with water policy and providing additional services to those with developmental disabilities. That was followed by hours of hearings in the House and Senate on some contentious bills, that may, or may not, if some senators have their way, pass.
So what's left in the closing days and hours is a conundrum that is going to require someone, including maybe Gov. Rick Scott, to compromise.
Here's why: The Senate and House can't bring a new state budget in for a landing until they reach a consensus on how much money to spend, whether it's on health care, schools as well as tax cuts and the $250 million economic development proposal that Scott wants in order to lure new companies to the state.
Right now these high-level budget decisions - called allocations - have not been made yet. Until those decisions are made then other budget items - whether it's pay raises for state workers or more money for land preservation _ can't be resolved.
"I think we got to start sitting down with the Senate, and you've got to look at the numbers,'' said Rep. Richard Corcoran, the House budget chief. "What can you do with the numbers?"
It's important to note that neither chamber in its initial budget proposals gave the Republican governor exactly what he wanted.
And in fact it almost appeared to be coordinated (although legislators say that wasn't how it worked out.)
The House gave Scott zero on his economic development plan. Their concern isn't so much rooted in cost, but in the overall philosophy behind the deal and whether government should be picking winners and losers. (A common theme sounded by Americans for Prosperity.) The Senate, however, has agreed to give Scott the entire amount for economic development (although the funding source has come under question.)
The Senate meanwhile has budgeted zero for tax cuts while the House has crafted a package that cuts $1 billion, but over a two-and-a-half year period instead of doing it in one year. (The House package also has tax cuts that expire so as to bring down the out year costs.) Scott's own tax cut package is not all $1 billion in one year, but his first year price-tag is $621 million - or nearly $300 million more than the House first year total.
Yes, Gardiner has voiced support for $250 million in tax cuts, but the Senate budget of nearly $81 billion doesn't really have enough money to do it unless you wipe out reserves _ or you cut back spending, sweep trust funds used for affordable housing, etc. Sen. Tom Lee, the Senate budget chairman, acknowledged that reality when talking to reporters last week. It was Lee who pointedly on the floor of the Senate called it "fiscally irresponsible" to try to cut taxes by $1 billion.
So then how do you get to the end of the session and pass the one bill (the budget) that is required each year?
Normal legislative protocol would be to split the difference and rely on the tried-and-true maxim of getting something is better than getting nothing.
But will Scott go along with that?
He made it clear _based on interviews with top legislators who met with him on Tuesday _ that's he's still banking on getting what he asked for.
And that's not just $250 million for economic development but his large tax cut package. Scott has told reporters so far this year that he remains confident that if everyone wants the session to end well that they will reach an agreement with him.
And what happens if they don't? Well Scott last year showed legislators that he has little problem with vetoing their bills and their projects in the budget. Last year several legislators howled in disbelief from Scott's veto pen - but they did little about it afterwards, largely because the House and Senate remained deeply upset over the meltdown of the 2015 regular session and could not work in concert.
Could that change this year? Maybe. But it would seem to be an act of faith to think that Scott will act differently if he doesn't get his way again this year.
Now as a back-up strategy the Legislature could pass a new budget before the scheduled March 11 end of the session. That would require Scott to act within seven days and before they have left town. Theoretically lawmakers could hold back tax cut bills to see how Scott reacted. And if he actually vetoed budget items again, they could either refuse to pass the tax cut bills, or actually override Scott's budget vetoes.
But such a plan would require a good working relationship between the House and Senate _ and that's not apparent right now.
Senators just don't think that the House would go along with an override _ and there are signs that is a correct assumption.
So where does that leave everything?
Well the Legislature could pass a budget and hope Scott will be more cooperative this time around. (You can tell with the recent decisions by the Senate to move his agency heads through confirmation hearings that there is some hope of a breakthrough.)
Sen. Joe Negron, the incoming Senate budget president, said Tuesday that while the top line decisions on spending will be made by Lee and Gardiner he could see all sides working out a deal.
"I think there is a way we can do responsible economic development and have a tax cut package,'' Negron said. "The Legislature and governor have to work together in a way where all parties achieve the goals they have set. The question is how do we get there?"
Yes, but answering that question may well depend on trust.
And so who does everyone trust?
Does the House trust the Senate? Does the Senate trust the House? Do legislators trust Scott?
These are questions that are hard for any reporter who has followed the Legislature the last two years _ and listened closely to both Republican and Democrats _ to answer with authority. And that's why it's hard _ at least right now _ to figure out if this session will go out with a roar, or a whimper.