Crist hints at a budget veto
Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday emphasized the value of "working together" with the Legislature. But he also gave strong hints that he will surgivally use his veto pen and aim it at the education budget cuts approved by lawmakers over the weekend.
"I'm grateful, as governor, that you have that opportunity. There are line item opportunities that you can review, and I've been reviewing them," Crist told reporters. Asked if that meant he might veto some line-item cuts, Crist said: "Maybe," possibly referring to his support for a merit pay plan for teachers that has been reduced by about $11-million (see line items 47 and 47A in the conference report). Another Crist concern is a cut in a program that rewards board-certified teachers.
Any cut Crist vetoes is in effect an appropriation, so lawmakers would have to find money to restore that cut.
Later Tuesday, Crist will meet with Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, and the president of the FEA's parent union, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers. That appears to set the stage for Crist to re-state his support for an excellent teaching program.