Although Gov. Rick Scott vetoed only $69 million of the massive $77 billion budget signed on Monday, there is one St Petersburg item the governor did not approve — Agenda 2020, a project supported by Mayor Rick Kriseman.
Agenda 2020 is a local “visioning plan” designed to help develop St. Petersburg’s traditionally neglected Southside.
“I am incredibly disappointed that Governor Rick Scott vetoed the Agenda 2020 plan funding,” Kriseman said in a statement. “He clearly failed to see the value of this community initiative, its impact on reducing poverty, and its rich potential to get Floridians back to work – the hallmark of the governor’s platform.
“Unfortunately, election-year politics appears to have trumped the needs of the people today.”
Kriseman thanked the supporters of Agenda 2020, which include outgoing Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, House Budget Chair Seth McKeel, and the Tampa Bay legislative delegation.
Among the plan’s goals is to increase employment in the St. Petersburg Southside by 5,000, through a series of job training programs to help close the skills gap. Another focus would be to improve enrollment and graduation rates throughout the Pinellas County school district, as well as “dramatically increasing” the number of students graduating in fields like manufacturing, construction, IT and health care. Supporters say that could have meant as many as 570 projected new jobs.
If enacted, the Plan could save taxpayers as much as $153 million by 2020, say supporters.
Agenda 2020 would be onlyone part of the Urban Affairs strategy for the City of St. Petersburg, the mayor added. He vowed to continue to work on behalf of impoverished citizens in St. Petersburg poverty and surrounding urban areas.
City Council Chair Karl Nurse told Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing Tampa in 2013 that one of one of the positive features of the 2020 Plan is it is proactive in addressing the community’s problems (through efforts in improving pre-K education) as opposed to “cleaning up the results of failure,” which is often the way most government poverty programs function.
St. Petersburg did not come away empty-handed from Scott’s veto pen, however.
“Although I am most disappointed in the veto of Agenda 2020,” Kriseman continued, “St. Petersburg did achieve some successes in the budget signed by the governor.”
One such success for the region was the approval of $10 million for the construction of a USF St. Petersburg College of Business.