In his final year in office, Gov. Rick Scott will ask the Florida Legislature for more money for child abuse investigators and improved adoption services, he said Thursday.
Scott was the lead-off speaker at the annual Associated Press legislative planning event at the Capitol in Tallahassee in advance of the 2018 session that will begin Jan. 9.
In opening remarks, Scott rejected criticism from Republican senators who have questioned his use of his executive power to make spending decisions after Hurricane Irma devastated large parts of the state in September.
“I‘m going to spend every dime I can to protect lives,” Scott said.
Contrary to projections by the Legislature’s chief economist, who has warned that the state is headed for a deficit if it doesn’t restrain spending, Scott said the state has enough money to pay for his spending priorities, including pay raises for select state employees, increased environmental spending and stipends for teachers to buy classroom supplies.
“We have the revenue. Our general revenue continues to grow,” Scott said. He added he‘s not in favor of spending hundreds of millions of dollars for local hometown projects in the next state budget.
Scott, currently the vice-chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said he will not seek the RGA’s chairmanship at its meeting scheduled for next month in Austin, Texas.
The two-term Republican governor is widely expected to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who has been in office since 2001.
Scott was scheduled to travel to Orlando later Thursday for events with Vice President Mike Pence and a Republican Party fund-raiser.