Gov. Rick Scott vetoed
nearly $368 million in spending from the state’s budget,
using his line-item authority to strike out scores of projects ranging from a
$50 million coast-to-coast bike trail to tens of millions in college and
university tuition hikes.
Scott’s extensive veto list is more than
twice as large as his list last year, and his largest since his first year in
office. It slashed state spending from $74.5 million to $74.1 million. Even
with the vetoes, the 2013-2014 budget is still the largest on record, and
includes $480 million for teacher pay raises, $8.5 billion for transportation
projects, $151.8 million for Everglades
restoration and $273 million for ports.
“The Florida Families First budget helps
families pursue their dreams by getting a great job and accessing a quality
education,” Scott said in an emailed statement. “Teachers will get a pay raise
and funds for their classroom supplies so they don’t have to pay out-of-pocket.”
This is Scott’s
largest veto effort since his first year in office, when he slashed more than
$615 million from the budget. Half of that came from a single-item: spending
authority for the Florida Forever land conservation program.
Repeatedly citing the need for a statewide
impact and a return on investment for all spending decisions, Scott vetoed more
than $25 million in local water projects, millions in spending for education
programs and school construction, museums, reentry programs and other social
services. Many lawmakers hoping to include so-called “turkeys” in the budget
during the first year of a surplus in years will be disappointed as their
hometown projects were axed by Scott.
As expected, Scott vetoed a 3 percent
tuition increase for state colleges, universities and workforce education. In
announcing the veto, he included comments of support from three community
college presidents and University
of Florida President Bernie Machen.
“As a result of the additional funds
contained in the budget, the University
of Florida will not be
seeking a tuition increase for next year,” Machen said.
Scott had hoped all 12 state university
presidents would collectively sign a letter rejecting any tuition revenue
increases, but they refused. Although Scott said in his veto letter that his
intent is to maintain tuition and fees at current levels, state law requires
tuition to rise to equal the rate of inflation, which is 1.7 percent this year.
One of Scott’s largest veto items: $50
million for the state’s Coast-to-Coast connector, a bike trail stretching from St. Petersburg to Titusville.
Scott said his Transportation Work Program already includes more than $57
million in statewide funding for transit greenway projects, and that the
connector could be completed over time.
“The worthwhile project contemplated by
the Coast-to-Coast connector,” Scott wrote, “can be built incrementally and
consistent with a prioritization of gaps in the existing trail system.”
--Other vetoes in the budget below: