House Speaker Larry Cretul (R- Ocala) released the following statement regarding Governor Charlie Crist’s budget vetoes:
“With the realities of today’s economic challenges, the Legislature had to make difficult decisions in order to responsibly balance the state’s budget.
“Unlike the Congress, the Florida Legislature is constitutionally obligated to balance our budget, and therefore spending priorities must be set. In spite of a $3 billion shortfall this year, the House worked to maintain level school funding and put our children’s classrooms ahead of other areas of the budget. Unfortunately the Governor’s veto today has likely jeopardized that education funding.
“By adopting the ways of Washington and focusing only on the short-term, Governor Crist has lowered the state’s budget reserves to a dangerous level that puts Florida’s fiscal stability at risk. Through his questionable vetoes this afternoon, the Governor spent at least an additional $247 million out of the state’s general revenue reserve, while only vetoing $21.7 million in general revenue. That $225.3 million of additional general reserve spending by the Governor today jeopardizes Florida’s top-tier bond ratings, and the Governor’s actions will likely cost Florida’s taxpayers billions of dollars long-term in the form of higher interest payments.
“It is also likely that what the Governor did today was unconstitutional, and legal staff will begin a review of his actions. This apparent abuse of power is another example of the Governor once again exceeding his legal authority. The House has successfully challenged the Governor when he has exceeded his constitutional authority before, and we are prepared to do so again. The rule of law is at stake, and no one, not even the Governor, is above the principles set forth in Florida’s state constitution.”