Budget vetoes take aim at South Florida projects
Gov. Rick Scott said he used his veto pen sparingly this year when he removed $142.7 million in projects from the state's $70 billion budget. But when it came to South Florida projects, the region sustained nearly one fifth of all the cuts.
From vetoing $500,000 for the Bay of Pigs Historical Museum -- on the 51st anniversary of the invasion -- to rejecting a plan to replace aging trucks for the City of Hialeah, the governor vetoed $24.8 million from Miami Dade and Broward alone out of the $142.7 million in projects he cut.
Left in were projects he deemed worthy because of their economic development potential, such as a $500,000 plan to develop a rowing center in Sarasota. Left unsaid were the projects that remained in the budget because of the governor's relationship with its sponsor or other programs that were rejected because of the governor's disagreements with lawmakers.
Scott approved $1 million for the Boys and Girls Club of Pasco County, the hometown of incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, while he removed from the budget $100,000 for Girls Incorporated of Sarasota County. Scott said he considers Boys and Girls clubs student focused programs that provide "measurable results."
Also eliminated were dozens of local programs developed to enhance a university or medical center, such as more than $3.6 million earmarked for the University of Miami's medical school. Other programs that benefited a local government or did not have a statewide benefit were also excised.
Rep. Jose Diaz, R-Miami, said that as a father whose wife is expecting their second child in a month he was especially disappointed to see the vetoes to autism programs that would have helped families of children with autism in South Florida. "It is difficult to see cuts to this special cause that is so near and dear to my heart,'' he said.
The governor left intact least one program that he cut last year, the $750,000 for Farm Share, the Miami-based non-profit that that takes tractor trailers of excess produce from farmers in Florida and distributes the fresh fruits and vegetables to needy elderly and families.
"With our state funding restored, Farm Share will be able to provide more fresh and nutritious food to those in need, instead of it going to waste in the landfills,'' said Farm Share Co-founder and Board Chair Patricia Robbins. "Thank you to the Governor."
The governor also appears to be leaning toward support for funding the development of a 12th university, Florida Polytechnic, the top priority of outgoing Senate budget chief JD Alexander. The powerful business consortium, the Council of 100, urged the governor to veto that project and approve an increase in university tuition to enhance the state's existing schools. Scott will make a decision on Polytechnic by Friday but, by leaving intact the $33 million to start developing the new university, he appears ready to support both the new university and increased tuition.
"Is he becoming a better politician? Yes,'' said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. Last year, Scott angered many in the legislature when he rejected millions of pet projects without giving lawmakers any warning.
Fasano, an opponent of usng state money to develop a new university in a tough budget year, said he believes that Scott's decision to approve the Polytechnic earmark is a sign of him being prepared to play politics.
"Gov. Scott ran as a candidate would have vetoed those dollars in a heartbeat because even he knows thts a foolish way to use tax dollars,' Fasano said. "Now, he is probably going to let it become law."
Here's our list of South Florida projects rejected by the governor:
- $560,000 from the University of Miami Phd program in biomedical science
- $3.1 million form UM College of Medicine
- $89,574 University of Miami - Rosenstiel Marine Science
- $159,245 at the University of Mimai for the motion pictures program
- $ 244,011 for the Regional Diabetes Center at the University Of Miami
- $4.1 million for Nova Southeastern University for Osteopathic Medicine, Optometry, Pharmacy, and Nursing Programs and another $84.695 for that program’s rural and unmet needs
- $1,445,390 to provide nutritional information for Autism Centers
- $302,800 for Learn to Earn programs in schools
- $50,000 for educational programming at the Broward Education Communication Network for educational programming
- $500,000 for the Dan Marino project
- $250,000 to Camilus House
- $4 million for flood mitigation for the South Florida Water Management District
- $140000 for City of Hialeah stormwater restoration
- $100,000 for Miami river environmental enhancement
- $270,000 for the City of Hialeah to replace aging trucks
- $100,000 for docks and piers at Lummus Park on the Miami River
- $500,000 for the University of Miami for the Crohn’s Disease and Colitis Project
- $1.9 million for Nova Southeastern University’s medical school program for students to do medical and clinical rotations in under served areas of the state
- $250,000 for the construction of a pediatric cardiac hybrid catheterization lab/operating room at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital
- $100,000 for the Autism Center of Miami
- $400,000 for brain and spinal research at the University of Miami
- $150,000 for ventilator dependent, medically fragile children in the Broward Children’s Center
- $200,000 for maintenance and repairs to the Here’s Help Residential Facility in Miami-Dade County
- $300,000 for the City of Miami Gardens
- $150,000 for the Little River Canal seawall remediation project in the Village of El Portal
- $150,000 City of West Park transportation improvements
- $243,000 for the town of Southwest Ranches
- $500,000 for the West End Bridge Crossing
- $250,000 for Goodwill Industries of South Florida
- $ 1 million for Broward County’s Workforce One to assist low-income youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods
- $5 million for the City of Miami to make infrastructure improvements within the Miami Design District
- $250,000 for the CAMACOL film project
- $100,000 for the Entrepreneurial Academy of the African American Chamber of Commerce
- $50,000 for the Greater Caribbean Chamber of Commerce
- $100,000 for the Historic Hampton House in Miami
- $150,000 for the Historical Log Cabin in he Village of Biscayne Park
- $500,000 for the Holocaust Education Center rail car
- $75,000 for the Haitian Heritage Museum Project
- $500,000 for the Bay of Pigs Museum
-- Toluse Olorunnipa contributed to this report