Cannon calls out Scott's "new found emphasis" on K-12 education funding | Plus more reactions from lawmakers
House Speaker Dean Cannon just issued this critical statement about Gov. Rick Scott's budget vetoes and comments on restoring education funding:
“The people of Florida sent us to Tallahassee to make hard choices during difficult times. We produced a responsible state budget that prioritizes the critical needs of our state, and I am proud that budget was signed into law.
“However, I feel compelled to respond to the Governor’s suggestion that the sum of his vetoes is available for re-appropriation to K-12 education and that doing so would fund education at or near the same level as last year. The Governor’s vetoes freed up less than $100 million in general revenue. If the Legislature were in session and could re-appropriate these funds, they would increase the FEFP by only 0.6 %, which would move the FEFP reduction from 7.9% to 7.3%.
“What is more surprising is the Governor’s sudden emphasis on K-12 education. The budget we sent him funds education at a higher level than the Governor recommended just a few months ago, when he proposed a 10% cut to the FEFP. The Governor communicated numerous priorities during session, and we did our best to accommodate him. It would have been helpful if the Governor had shared this new found emphasis with us before the budget was finalized.
“It is the Governor’s constitutional authority to veto line items in the budget, and I respect his decisions. The vetoes of general revenue appropriations will further increase the more than $2 billion the Legislature set aside in our state’s reserves, which will help protect our bond rating and ensure that we have ample reserves in the event of an emergency.”
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, shared some of Cannon's sentiments in a statement emailed to the Times/Herald:
"When did Governor Scott all of a sudden care about our teachers? It's a bit disingenuous when he says we should have put more money into helping our teachers when the budget he presented to the Florida Legislature in January cut education almost twice as much than what the legislature finally passed. I guess he read his poll numbers yesterday. If he truly wants the Florida Legislature to take the vetoed dollars and put them in to our educational system he should immediate call the Legislators back for a special session so we can avoid teacher layoffs."
From Carlos Lopez-Cantera's Twitter: "A little perplexed by @FLGovScott statement. He "vetoed so education would get more fund" yet the Leg funded it higher than his own budget."
Senate President Mike Haridopolos offers a friendlier statement:
"This year Florida faced the largest budget shortfall in state history. Despite this challenge we passed a balanced budget without raising taxes or fees.
In addition the legislature reformed Medicaid, education and government pensions in order to produce long term stability. Our reform-minded agenda will bring predictability to Florida’s economy and attract new job creators to our state. That’s what this past session was all about – making needed changes to make Florida’s future even brighter.
We respect the constitutional rights of the governor and the Senate will thoughtfully review each of Governor Scott’s vetoes."
From House Budget Chairwoman Denise Grimsley:
"Facing the most difficult budget year in recent history, lawmakers did not waiver in their resolve to produce a realistic and responsible budget that offers achievable cuts in order to prioritize the critical needs of our state.
“From the onset of the 2011 Legislative Session, it was our top priority to achieve necessary spending reductions to fill the $4.6 billion budget shortfall, without raising taxes or fees on hardworking Floridians. With Governor Scott’s signature today, I am happy to report that we have accomplished that goal.
“While the decisions we were forced to make were often not easy, they were necessary to achieve a fiscally sound, balanced budget for the State of Florida.”
Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner:
“I’d like to congratulate Governor Scott on today’s budget signing and commend him for the collaborative approach he has taken while working with the Legislature. Our state’s nearly $4 billion budget deficit made this year especially challenging for the Legislature and the Governor. I saw firsthand the amount of energy and hours of time dedicated by our Senate Appropriations chairmen and members of our appropriations committees. It was often painstaking to make necessary budget cuts while also protecting Florida’s most vulnerable citizens.
“Governor Scott used his discretion to veto budget items that he deemed unnecessary. Many of those funding issues are important to members of the Florida Senate, as well as the Floridians who are affected by programs in the state budget. Over the coming weeks I will visit with senators statewide as we carefully examine the Governor’s vetoes and the budget as a whole. As elected representatives of the people of the state of Florida, it is our duty to thoroughly review the Governor’s decisions while considering the wide-ranging needs of our diverse state.”
Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee:
“Governor Rick Scott signed the budget today in The Villages, a development populated by thousands of middle-class retirees, many of whom are former teachers, firefighters, law enforcement and middle managers, but not full-time Florida residents. Not only was Governor Scott out of town, but he is out of touch with the reality that is life for the majority of Floridians. ...
“Let’s get to work” was supposed to be our motto this legislative session, but what our Republican legislature got to work on was restricting the rights of women, lessening regulations for our most vulnerable, and balancing the budget by taxing our state employees, all while giving corporations a tax cut. Jobs were cut, not created, and I fear the decisions of this legislature will negatively affect main street restaurants, shoe stores and auto repair shops in our state as almost a million public servants and retirees have less money to spend because of the choices made by Governor Scott and the Legislature."