Major environmental programs included in the $70 billion spending plan survived the governor’s veto pen Tuesday, but Gov. Rick Scott made surgical cuts to particular items, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.
Likewise, a handful of economic development and historic renovation projects also fell victim to the veto pen as Scott axed millions of dollars in appropriations for such things as court house restorations, museum grants and road projects.
“When I went line by line through the budget, I asked myself, ‘Is this the proper role of state government? Should we spend taxpayers’ dollars for that purpose? And if so, what is the return on investment?,'” Scott said in a veto message.
In what was a lean year for all sectors environmental groups were generally pleased with the governor’s priorities. Following his vocal support early in the session Scott agreed to spend $30 million in the coming fiscal year on Everglades restoration efforts.
Likewise, Florida Forever, the state’s land-buying program, was awarded $8 million to put toward managing and leasing arrangements, though the state won’t purchase any new land for now.
Some water projects, however, didn’t make the cut. A $4 million allocation for flood mitigation efforts overseen by the South Florida Water Management District fell to the governor’s pen.
Scott vetoed $19 million in local water projects, a list of 23 proposals that included $35,000 for a waste water feasibility study in Sumter County to $3.5 million to help pay for a Hendry County airport water line extension.
Despite the emphasis elsewhere in the budget on economic development issues, Scott vetoed more than $7.2 million in road projects paid for with state transportation trust fund dollars.
Scott vetoed 10 projects including road work in South Florida, Port St. Lucie and Citrus County. Survivors included $1.25 million for flood prevention efforts in the Dunlawton Avenue historic district in Port Orange.
A $5 million port upgrade in Port St. Joe was cut from the budget. Surviving was $2 million for enhancements to port facilities in Pensacola.
Some historic projects weren’t as lucky. The governor rejected spending for the Historic Hampton House in Miami, the Historic Log Cabin in Key Biscayne and the Captain Henry House in LaBelle.
Scott also vetoed $1.9 million in museum funds for nine projects including the Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami, a veto that inauspiciously came on the 51st anniversary of the attempted invasion.
Nearly $2.3 million in historic court restoration efforts in Gadsden, Glades Hardee and Hendry Counties were also axed.