More analysis & reaction Gov. Rick Scott’s signing of state budget, vetoing of projects

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Touting a billion dollars in additional education spending, Gov. Rick Scott went today to northern St. Johns County, to an elementary school just south of Jacksonville, to sign the state budget into law.

Scott vetoed $142.7 million in local projects as he signed the $70 billion state budget into law. Scott, who signed the bill at an elementary school near Jacksonville, said the budget should be known as an education budget because of a $1 billion school funding increase. The governor’s vetoes included about $98 million in general revenue and another $44 million in trust fund spending.

Chancellor Frank Brogan looked for the silver lining:

There were successes during the Legislative Session that deserve to be highlighted even amid the true budget challenges—one is that the Legislature is actively partnering with the Board of Governors when it comes to accountability and developing the most meaningful metrics for the State University System. Today, we are gratified that the Governor embraced and endorsed that collective and collaborative pursuit.

SUS Board of Governors Chair Dean Colson is looking forward to next year:

“The Board of Governors recognizes there are real and abiding budget challenges that the State is facing. While this budget represents less direct funding for the universities, we appreciate the stated commitment of legislative leadership that the $300 million reduction will be restored to the baseline next year. Our Universities will continue to tap their reserves year-round in order to save course offerings, retain faculty and account for enrollment growth, among other critical demands. The Board of Governors will continue to aggressively build its framework of accountability that demonstrates our commitment to quality and return-on-investment made amid our 11 state universities.”

Speaker Dean Cannon’s appreciated Scott’s hard work:

“It is clear that Governor Scott thoughtfully reviewed our work product, and I appreciate his approval of this important piece of legislation.

 “The state budget signed into law today confronts an over $1 billion shortfall without raising taxes, provides for more than $2 billion in reserves to preserve our bond rating and increases education funding by more than $1 billion.

“By holding the line on taxes in the face of a significant shortfall and taking the steps needed to preserve our bond rating, we are reaffirming our shared commitment to fostering a stable and reliable business climate ripe for private sector job creation. The $1 billion increase in education funding takes this commitment one step further by ensuring that Florida remains home to a workforce equipped with the education and skills needed to compete and lead in a global economy.”

Florida Action Watch’s thinks the budget, surprise, was driven by special interests:

“(W)hen it mattered most, Scott and his puppets stood with special interests at the expense of middle class families and dished out more corporate tax breaks and pet project funds, while making extensive cuts that damage our quality of education, health care, livelihoods, and families.”

Florida Democrats call the budget an assault on the middle class:

“There is little to be proud of in the 2012-2013 budget. What the Governor touts as an investment in education fails to restore the massive cuts made by Scott and the GOP-led Legislature last session. This budget is nothing more than the same shortsighted priorities of Florida Republicans that has put the special interests ahead of investing in education – while schools are left crumbling around our children. That is no way to lead.

“More importantly, this budget squeezes funding from critical services, putting the burden of balancing the budget squarely on the backs of Florida’s families. This budget is an assault on the middle class and fails Florida’s families in every way by moving our state in the wrong direction.”

Florida TaxWatch crowed about the Governor vetoing 61% of it’s turkey list.

“Florida TaxWatch today commends Governor Scott for vetoing 61 percent of the projects identified as turkeys by Florida TaxWatch, totaling $63.1 million of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. This $63.1 million includes 97 of the 159 turkeys in our report, and represents projects from across the state, and in every agency identified on our list.”

Ted Granger, president of the United Way of Florida, said the budget was good news for children and parents because the Early Learning Information System, which has fallen well behind schedule, was funded:

“This will bring us into the 21st century. We’re currently back in the 19th.”

House budget chief Denise Grimsely’s statement:

“I thank Governor Scott for signing a fiscally conservative budget that holds the line on taxes, reins in spending and funds important priorities such as public safety, economic development and public education.

“Working with the Senate, we were able to address Florida’s more than $1 billion budget shortfall without shortchanging Floridians.  I appreciate Governor Scott’s dedication to increasing our commitment to education by more than $1 billion. A well-educated workforce is an essential component to developing a robust, world-class economy.

“This budget funds Florida’s most important priorities while also recognizing the need to allow businesses to do what they do best when government gets out of the way: create jobs and opportunities for Floridians to find work.”

Senate President Mike Haridopolos played a familiar tune:

“By investing in education and jobs without raising taxes, the budget signed today benefits all of Floridians.”

Roy Miller, president of the Children’s Campaign, said:

“In a very tight budget year, children fared better than we thought they might at the beginning of the legislative session.”

Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron praised the governor’s handling of the vetoes:

“The process was done fairly, and I felt that Gov. Scott and his office took a great deal of time to hear people out.”

Former Republican Sen. Durell Peaden said the veto FAMU pharmacy program in Crestview could help bring economic development and jobs to the Panhandle area:

“(It is a) pretty big lick for a little old country town.”

Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat who has long specialized in health- and human services issues, called the vetoes “devastating.”

Louis St. Petery, vice president of the Florida Pediatric Society, said Children’s Medical Services, the program for children with special health care needs, had a close call over a bill reorganizing the Department of Health:

“In its original form, the bill had some very disastrous consequences. Fortunately, we were able to get all of those CMS changes reversed, so that the child protection team remains intact, the poison control program remains intact, and both were fully funded.”

Rep. Alan Williams was displeased with Scott’s veto of Gadsden Mobile Health Unit and Courthouse Security Upgrades:

“I am highly disappointed that the governor vetoed funding for the second year for a Mobile Health Unit  that many community partners in Gadsden supports to provide a basic level of health access to children and families in a county where wide health disparities exist.  Safety is paramount.  To veto courthouse security upgrades for Gadsden County puts public safety at risk. In a time where leaders continue to pledge support for the creation of jobs, this budget promotes the elimination of state jobs and does not stimulate employment growth. I welcome the opportunity to educate the governor on the real needs of Gadsden, Leon and the surrounding big bend area.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.