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Gov. Scott slashes $461 million in special projects

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Rick Scott vetoed  $461.4 million in special projects when he signed the fiscal year 2015-16 budget  early Tuesday morning, in his office and not in the public.

No governor has vetoed more in cash projects than Scott did early this morning, his staff claims in a prepared statement.

Included in the  veto list:

  • $15 million for a University of Central Florida building;
  • $13.65 million for Dispersed Water Management;
  • $9.5 million for Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics;
  • $3 million for Florida State University Rural Primary Care Clinic;
  • $2.5 million Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies-Florida Drug Discovery Acceleration Program

Legislators were forced into a 20-day special session when they could not pass a proposed spending plan for the 2015-16 year within the regularly allotted 60-ay special session. Lawmakers weren’t abel to reach accord during the special session because of disagreements over health care spending and the impending loss of Medicaid supplemental funds called Low Income Pool dollars, which for the current fiscal year is $2 billion.

Once the federal government notified Florida it could expect to receive $1 billion in federal Low Income Pool dollars for the upcoming year the chambers agreed to use $400 million in recurring general revenue to backfill the $1 billion deficit from the change in LIP policy.

The move was at odds with what Gov. Scott wanted done and the Legislature took steps to protect the LIP/health care agreement from being vetoed. Chief budget writer Richard Corcoran said shortly after the Legislature adjourned sine die special session that the veto proof measures were put in there at the Senate’s insistence and the House agreed in the spirit of compromise.

“I would tell the governor to go forth boldly and veto,” Corcoran, said Friday night after sind die, paraphrasing Martin Luther.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli issued a statement following Scott’s actions, thanking the governor for quickly signing the budget into law.

“Our balanced budget keeps Florida’s economy growing, provides record funding for our children’s education, fully complies with Amendment 1, cuts taxes for families by $400 million, and will include even more than the $3 billion in reserves we anticipated,” Crisafulli said in the statement. “This is a good budget that responsibly meets the needs of Florida families.”

In a release Scott touts what he claims the budget does accomplish:

  •  $19.7 billion in funding for K-12 public school education, including $10.9 billion in state funding for the highest amount ever. The per-student amount is $7,097 – an increase of $207 (three percent).
  •  $400 million for universities and $40 million for colleges, bringing funding levels up to $4.5 billion for state universities and $2 billion for state colleges.
  •  $9.3 billion in transportation projects to continue this growth. This includes $633.6 million for resurfacing more than 2,493 lane miles and $244.8 million for repairs to 94 bridges and the replacement of 16 more.
  • $3.5 billion in funding for agricultural and natural resources, including $71.5 million for increased land management and Florida Forever, and more than $500 million for water projects,- including $106 million for Everglades restoration and a record $45 million for springs protection.
  • $1.2 billion for the Agency of Persons with Disabilities, including over $40 million to remove more than 2,000 individuals from the waiting list.
  • $4.8 billion for public safety.

Scott’s behind-the-doors signing of the budget mirrors how it was put together: out of the public eye.

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