Lawmakers, lobbyists and lookers-on chimed in Monday after Gov. Rick Scott signed the state’s $74.1 billion spending plan for the coming year. Some applauded the governor for making historic investments in education, ports and business development. Others, smarting after Scott vetoed $368 million in spending projects endorsed by the Legislature, were none too happy.
Here’s a roundup of some of the comments:
--Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, said he and the Senate Democrats were “extremely disappointed” by Scott’s budget vetoes. He referred to Scott as a “newcomer” who “misses a critical understanding” about the Legislature’s role in crafting a spending plan.
Smith summed up his feelings in a tweet: “Gov. Scott fought hard to give 400 million tax break to manufacturers while cutting critical road and water projects for cities. SMH.”
--Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, kept a cordial tone, despite the fact that some of the major projects in his district were slashed by Scott’s veto pen.
“Unlike the deficits and dysfunctions in Washington, today our Chief Executive signed a budget that lives within our means, meets the critical needs of the people of Florida, raises the salaries of state workers and effective teachers, pays down obligations instead of piling on more, puts aside money for a rainy day, and doesn't raise taxes by one dollar,” he said.
“While many will disagree with some of Governor Scott's line item vetoes, that is his constitutional role as Chief Executive,” he added.
--- House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, also stuck to friendly comments, even though Scott vetoed the 3-percent tuition increase he had championed and struck down some projects in Pasco County.
“While we did not agree on every line item, he signed 95 percent of our budget, which is a resounding endorsement of the House and Senate work product,” he said.
--Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown was disappointed Scott vetoed $500,000 for Learn2Earn, a program to expose high school students to life on college campuses.
“The Governor and his team have once again let down hundreds of Jacksonville children and families," he said.
“We have worked very hard to educate Governor Scott and his team about this critical program. We provided them with ample information about how it benefits at-risk Jacksonville high school students who dream of going to college," he said. We were pleased to see that Florida TaxWatch recognized the value of this program and did not recommend a veto of this appropriation. The Governor pledged to give us a final chance to make our case before a decision was made, but that chance never happened."
--State Senator John Legg, R-Trinity, said some of Scott’s vetoes harmed implementation of high school reform, called the Career and Professional Education Act.
“I am truly disappointed to see a failure to fund portions of the CAPE Bill that would have prepared Florida’s student to compete in the global economy through recognitions and certificates at the elementary and middle school levels. The Governor’s lack of support for this and the Economic Security Report is disheartening.”
-- Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said on Twitter that he was “licking my wounds” after Scott vetoed $14 million in funding for a STEM building at Gulf Coast State College.
“The Governors veto list just came out. Northwest Florida lost a generational opportunity at Gulf Coast State College," he tweeted. "Licking my wounds.”