Analysis and reaction to Rick Scott’s budget signing today

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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.

Keep coming back here for previewing articles, updates and live-blogging of the event.

3:59 p.m. – TaxWatch’s statement on Gov. Scott’s vetoing of 61% of their ‘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.

We applaud the Governor for vetoing a majority of the projects on the Florida TaxWatch Turkey list, and working to protect the integrity of the budget process. Governor Scott stated today that he reviewed the turkey list before deciding on his vetoes, and Florida TaxWatch is honored to help make a difference in the decisions of those at the very top of Florida government.

This year, the Legislature passed 21 bills that included Florida TaxWatch Government Cost Savings Task Force recommendations, and vetoing these projects will only increase the taxpayers’ savings. Moving the savings from vetoed Turkeys into reserves will boost the state’s bond rating, and help lessen the potential for future shortfalls.”

A full list of vetoed turkeys is available here.

3:46 p.m. – Rep. Alan Williams issued the following statement on 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.”

3:44 p.m. – Senate President Mike Haridopolos: “By investing in education and jobs without raising taxes, the budget signed today benefits all of Floridians.”

3:31 p.m. – Scott also signed the budget implementing bill (HB 5003) today.

3:24 p.m. – In signing “education budget” Scott also touts “An extra $47 million for enhanced reading programs.”

3:00 p.m. – 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.”

2:30 p.m. – Florida Democratic Party statement:

“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.”

2:27 p.m. – For link to the veto list and veto letter, look here: ow.ly/algIm

2:24 p.m. – @fineout: So in end Scott signed budget and budget implementing bill. Left a whole slew of conforming bills for later in the week

2:20 p.m. – Florida Action Watch’s statement:

“(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.”

1:50 p.m. – Speaker Dean Cannon’s statement:

“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.”

10:14 a.m. – Scott keeps biggest turkey in budget.

9:38 a.m. – Scott said Tuesday morning that he will veto some items from the budget he’ll sign today, and while he declined to name any during a morning radio interview, he said the amount he’ll remove will be “substantially less” than what he vetoed last year. Last year Scott removed more than $600 million in spending from the budget. Scott told WOKV radio in Jacksonville that some backers of local projects have made a case to him that the money belongs in the budget. “If it’s your project, you think it really makes a lot of sense,” Scott said. “If it’s not in your community, it’s not so interesting.” One spending item he’ll approve: money for public television stations, which he vetoed last year. “They came back to me and they showed me there’s a return for that money,” Scott said. The governor will sign the bill at an elementary school in northern St. Johns County, trumpeting more than $1 billion in additional education spending in the budget.

8:37 a.m. – @fineout: @FLGovScott on Jax tv station contends state funding was kept flat last year and that it’s being boosted this year

7:59 a.m. – Only one thing is clear about what will happen Tuesday when Gov. Rick Scott signs the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1: An increase in state funding for education will stand.

7:38 a.m. – Scott won’t veto public TV money this year “they came back and showed me there’s a return for that money.”

7:32 a.m. – Scott will re-enact budget signing in Panama City Beach this afternoon.

6:58 a.m. – Steve Bousquet’s previewing article.

Information from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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.