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Two Flagler Projects Among $368 Million in Vetoes as Scott Approves $74.1 Billion Budget

| May 20, 2013

Must've been rehearsing with the pen. (WMNF)

Must’ve been rehearsing with the pen. (WMNF)

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday sliced a rafter of turkeys and plenty of other projects out of the formerly $74.5 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, bringing an end to speculation about what the governor would do with the heftiest spending plan in state history.

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Two vetoes affect Flagler County directly: Scott vetoed the $2 million appropriated to the Flagler Beach-based Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida’s Graduates, the non-profit run by Heather Beaven and flagged last week by Tax Watch in its annual list of legislative “turkeys.” The foundation counts House Speaker Will Weatherford, the Wesley Chapel Republican, on its board, and the $2 million would have represented virtually the entirety of its budget. But Weatherford was on the losing side of an even bigger veto–the $46 million tuition increase for colleges and universities he’d championed.

Flagler County also lost $150,000 in re-training dollars for a local jobs program. (See the full list of vetoes below.)

In all, Scott cut just shy of $368 million in funding from the budget (SB 1500), bringing its overall total down to $74.1 billion. That’s still the largest that Florida lawmakers have ever approved, but the governor’s office says it’s one of the smallest since 2000 when population and inflation are factored in.

“We made strategic investments in this budget, while holding the line on spending that does not give Florida taxpayers a positive return on investment,” Scott wrote in a letter accompanying his vetoes. “In order to ensure all taxpayer funds are well spent, I have vetoed special legislative projects totaling $368 million.”

Scott announced by email that he had signed the budget and followed up with a brief press conference outside the Florida Department of Emergency Management’s headquarters in Tallahassee. It marked another striking contrast with Scott’s history — his first budget signing, in The Villages, resembled a political rally, while he spoke about his decisions last year at an elementary school in St. Johns County.

Scott also signed 16 budget-related bills, among them an economic development bill (SB 406) that includes a sales-tax holiday for clothing and school supplies from Aug. 2 through Aug. 4.

The largest item vetoed by Scott was a $50 million trail for bikers and pedestrians cutting across the state from St. Petersburg to Titusville, filling in gaps in existing paths. While pointing out that he and Budget Director Jerry McDaniel like to ride bikes, Scott told reporters that he felt state agencies should handle which projects get funded through normal channels.

“We’re doing projects like that out of the Department of Transportation,” Scott said. “That’s the way we should be doing that, rather than have a project like that.”

The governor’s veto of what would have amounted to a 3 percent tuition increase at state colleges and universities removes $26.4 million in funding for colleges and almost $18.5 million for universities, as well as $1.2 million for workforce education programs.

Scott, who has for months pressed for lower higher education costs, brushed away suggestions that he was meddling in universities for political reasons.

“This is not a political decision; this is the decision for Florida families,” he said. “Tuition cannot continue to go up the way it’s been going up.”

The proposed tuition increases were in budget fine print known as proviso language. While vetoing the proviso language could be legally dubious, Scott said he didn’t expect a court challenge.

“But if there is [one], we’re going to fight it,” he said.

Scott also slashed a $14 million building for science, technology, engineering and math at Gulf Coast State College, a project in the district of Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, that ballooned in size during budget negotiations between the House and Senate. Scott listed that and several other projects among those that weren’t on the list of construction projects requested by the Florida College System.

Gaetz was not alone; some projects in Pasco County, home to House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, also got the ax. Scott suggested he wasn’t overly concerned about nixing items that were close to home for legislative leaders.

“I’m responsible for 19.2 million people,” he said. “I’m not responsible for one region by itself. I want to take care of all Floridians.”

Scott’s vetoes in many instances tracked with the list of budget “turkeys” issued last week by Florida TaxWatch. The organization said Monday that more than two-thirds of the items it highlighted were sliced by Scott.

“It is clear from the high number of vetoed projects that the governor carefully scrutinized all of the budget turkeys TaxWatch identified, which is the intent of the Turkey Watch Report,” said Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of TaxWatch.

Reaction to the vetoes broke down largely along party lines. Gaetz, who had blasted TaxWatch’s list of turkeys on Thursday, was far more mild in his reaction to Scott’s decision to actual veto the items.

“While many will disagree with some of Governor Scott’s line item vetoes, that is his constitutional role as chief executive,” Gaetz said.

But Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, flayed Scott’s vetoes.

“His targets reveal a basic misunderstanding of the critical role local communities, and local community projects play in Florida,” Smith said. “Our economy hinges on many facets, and this funding was intended to infuse the areas that contribute to its struggling rebound.”

–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive

Gov. Rick Scott Veto List, Florida Budget, 2013

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14 Responses for “Two Flagler Projects Among $368 Million in Vetoes as Scott Approves $74.1 Billion Budget”

  1. Ron Hubbard says:

    Good and fair job by Gov. Scott trimming the budget removing the unnecessary legislative “turkeys.” Spending must be reduced where possible.

  2. PCer says:

    I see a lot of vetoes of educational type programs. They might not be directly related to schools, but they are related to learning. :(

  3. We are working hard to make plans for 2013-14 and it starts right here in Flagler with the Girls Get IT Surf ‘n Science Camp! Of course, we have other summer academies in South Florida. The SUPERB summer academy focuses on character and leadership while the Jobs for Florida’s Graduates summer academy focuses on the college application process. You can learn more at On behalf of the 3000+ students we will serve this upcoming year, thank you for your concern about our budget but the veto didn’t impact us fiscally. Those funds were to help us expand to the School Districts currently on our waiting list.

    • Concerned taxpayer says:

      Really? I find it hard to believe that $2 million would not “imapct you fiscally”. If that is the case then the Governor was right to veto this money because you did not need it.

  4. TyCobbHimself says:

    I watched news reports from Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Miami last night. All stated cuts by the Gov. to their areas. This was across the board, and I for one, am glad it was done!

  5. mellie says:

    This idea that “we can’t keep spending” is a corporate fallacy posited by those who wish to destroy representative government in all its current forms. They would pit us all against one another in a sick game of survival of the fittest and to hell with everyone else, and we are letting them win.

    It sickens me that so many people buy into such nonsense. Government cannot be run like a business. It was never meant to be run like a business. How do you people think we got where we are? We didn’t get here because of austerity, we got here because we SPENT MONEY.

    • DLF says:

      Mellie: where do you suggest we get the money to support your out of control spending? I suggest if we don’t reduce spending on these turkey projects we will be fighting each other for more basic items such as food,safety and basic education the government can be run like a business,it’s just we don’t want to reduce spending, we all want everything,not possible. Nice job by Scott in doing his part,we will survive these cuts and life will go.t

      • briggid says:

        The money used to be there, DLF. It’s not there anymore because some people think it’s greedy of the government to require that you pay taxes to support your local civilization.

        The government CANNOT be run like a business. Again, it was never meant to be so. Read a history book!

        • DLF says:

          briggid: Your right, the money was once there but we have spent it on lost causes, free this and free that, pay for my education, pay for me not to grow this or that. I know I could certainly spend my tax dollars and get better results then the screwed up government is getting. What history book are you referring to that said we cannot run the government as a business. You may want to look at countries like Greece and tell me how good big government performs!

  6. fla native says:

    Great job Governor Scott. I think Flagler County is drowning in it’s own dose narcissism to a certain extent. There are 66 other counties and this is one of the smallest with one of the smaller budgets for pork. Re-elect Rick Scott Governor.

  7. Sherry Epley says:

    Right On Mellie!

    If WE do not invest in our country, who will? China? South America? When our wealthy citizens do not really believe in the USA, they “HIDE” their money in secret off shore accounts, they greedily exploit and protect tax loop holes, they ship jobs off shore in order to avoid supporting our country with employment taxes (while not caring at all about jobs for our citizens), all in order to continue creating enormous person wealth. . . while asking us to CUT BACK on EVERYTHING. . . the future of our country is indeed bleak!

    • dlf says:

      Have you ever got a job from a poor person? All the jobs I have had were from the nasty rich you refer to. The nasty rich pay more of the total tax bill then any other group, much, much more then you or I. It seems to me that the ones who get the most from the BIG government are the same ones who want someone else to pay more. We are fast becoming a society that thinks someone else should support them and the BIG government take care of them. What are we going to do when the golden goose flies the coop?

  8. there are three sides to every story says:

    Gov Scott…THANK YOU for having the smarts to know when to cut these types of programs and put the dollars in area’s that really need it!

    • DLF says:

      Great point, I agree with you 100%, someone must make these decisions and no matter what he does someone will be unhappy and want to complain.

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