Lawmakers revive vetoed projects, daring Scott to ax them again
Florida legislators aren't scared one bit of Gov. Rick Scott's veto pen anymore. Either that or they plan to get even this time.
Local projects that lawmakers placed in the budget last year that Scott swiftly vetoed are springing back to life in the Capitol this weekend, as lawmakers dare Scott to kill them two years in a row. House members on Sunday agreed with the Senate to support a series of projects in that category.
Scott last year vetoed $240,956 to restore a Bethel A.M.E. Church in Pinellas County but it's back at $340,956. Scott last year vetoed $1 million for the Military Museum of South Florida but it reappeared Sunday at $250,000. Scott last year vetoed $1 million for a black cultural tourism project known as Sankofa, but it's back at the same amount. Scott last year vetoed $175,000 for an East Coast Surfing Museum in New Smyrna Beach, but the same amount was agreed to Sunday and included in a list of local economic development projects.
Repairs to an American Legion post in Key West costing $154,000, vetoed last year, is back in the budget. So is $2 million for restoration of the Hotel Ponce de Leon for Flagler College. The list goes on and on.
After lawmakers gutted Scott's two priorities of tax cuts and job incentive money, everyone expects Scott to get even by using his veto pen even more aggressively this year than the $461 million he axed last year.
The crucial final budget decisions are coming together as Florida's presidential primary is forcing its way into Capitol politics, too. As Scott cozies up to Donald Trump, the same House that killed his $250 million incentive program for jobs is filled with Republicans who now proudly wear Marco Rubio campaign pins on their lapels.
Speculation is rampant that legislators will finish the budget as soon as possible to get it to Scott's desk during this session, cutting his time to act to seven days anthereby giving legislators time to override his vetoes by two-thirds votes in both houses. For the record, Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, told the Times/Herald Sunday that that is not the Senate's strategy and that he didn't think there was enough time to do it.
But he said he shares the concerns of others that Scott could veto much of the budget -- or all of it, forcing the Legislature back to work. "He could," Gardiner said.