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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

GOP senator: Crist veto 'petty,' 'perplexing'



Republican Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla of Miami is among the few who felt the sting of Gov. Charlie Crist's veto pen. He didn't like it and he said so. The senator known as "DLP" sponsored an $840,000 grant for Exponica International, which he calls the largest event of its kind in the U.S. highlighting ties between Florida and Nicaragua (he has a large Nicaraguan-American constituency).

S036 "He's saying specifically that one group of people do not deserve the same kind of recognition as other groups. That concerns me," Diaz de la Portilla said. "These are people that are good Republicans. They are hard-working. They pay taxes." It also rankles him, he said, that in a year when only two projects were vetoed, no one from the governor's office bothered to give him a head's-up. "No one called," he said, calling the decision "petty" and "perplexing."

Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey said the project was vetoed again as it was last year because Exponica has an 18-year record of success without state funding, and the state does not give money to local cultural programs. Crist did allow funding for such projects as the Brevard zoo, Haitian Heritage Museum and Miami zoological invasive species exhibit.

Florida TaxWatch, which included all of the above projects on its $110-million "turkey" list, was equally critical of Crist's lack of vetoes. "It's disappointing that the governor allowed so many questionable appropriations to remain in the budget while core services provided to the people of Florida are being cut across the board," TaxWatch's Dominic Calabro said.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:22am]


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