Scott Signs Budget, Takes It Easy On Vetoes

March 17, 2018

With a light touch of his veto pen, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed a new $88.7 billion state budget, eliminating only $64 million in spending and projects, the lowest total of his seven-plus years as governor.

“Today, Florida is strong, and I am proud of our hard work over the past seven years to grow the economy, invest in education, protect the environment and keep our families safe,” Scott said in a budget message.

He said his final budget as governor “will continue to advance the priorities of Florida families for years to come and keep Florida’s future strong.”

Scott wasted little time in dealing with the budget, which was passed by the House and Senate on Sunday and delivered to him Wednesday. The budget will take effect July 1.

Related story: Scott Vetoes $1 Million For Beulah Beltway, Nearly $1 Million For UWF

His $64 million in vetoes was lower than the $69 million he eliminated in 2014, when he was running for re-election. Scott, a Republican, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate this year against Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent. This year’s vetoes represent a little more than 10 percent of the $615 million Scott eliminated in his first year in office in 2011, his high mark for vetoed spending.

But rather than focus on the vetoes Friday, Scott emphasized the spending initiatives in the new budget, as well as a tax-cut package that includes sales-tax “holidays” and a slight reduction in a commercial-lease tax. The budget plan also avoided $377 million in increased property taxes for schools because lawmakers decided to roll back a tax rate.

In an interview Friday with The News Service of Florida, Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said he was pleased with the governor’s support for the Senate’s initiatives, including a $122 million increase in funding for Bright Futures college scholarships.

“I think the vetoes were very modest, and I’m grateful to the governor for his consideration of Senate priorities,” Negron said.

While Scott and Republican legislative leaders have touted the budget, the Florida Association of District School Superintendents this week asked Scott to call a special session to increase funding for the 67 school districts. Although the budget includes a $101.50 increase in per-student funding, the superintendents said districts, on average, would only see a 47-cent increase in basic funding per-student because much of the new money was targeted for mental health and safety issues following last month’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County.

In signing the budget, Scott rejected that request, emphasizing the “record” level of funding for the kindergarten-through-high-school system, including a $485 million increase over the current year.

He also cited the $400 million school-safety initiative, which will increase funding for mental-health services, school resource officers and security improvements at schools after the Feb. 14 mass shooting that killed 17 people.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida


One Response to “Scott Signs Budget, Takes It Easy On Vetoes”

  1. Carl on March 18th, 2018 10:55 am

    Where will the money for the resource officers and extra mental health come from? Are the schools getting short changed to provide this service?

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