Gov. Rick Scott could soon be the all-time king of line-item veto
Former Gov. Jeb Bush earned the nickname "Veto Corleone," with the intentional misspelling of "Vito," for his aggressive use of the line-item veto. It was even used as a TV ad in Bush's ill-fated run for president last year. But Bush's record is in jeopardy, thanks to Gov. Rick Scott.
Yearly totals compiled by the LobbyTools legislative research service show that Scott vetoed $1.9 billion in spending in his first six years in office. If he wipes out more than $250 million from the budget that's headed to his desk -- which is highly likely -- Scott will have surpassed Bush's $2.1 billion over eight years, making him the rightful "Godfather" at the state Capitol in Tallahassee. And Scott still has a year to go.
Scott's first use of the veto pen was memorable for several reasons. He did it at The Villages, the golf and retirement haven north of Orlando and a bastion of conservatism. With campaign-style flair, he waved a red Sharpie pen in front of a banner that said "Promises made, promises kept," and members of a local Democratic club said they were blocked from attending the event. The Times/Herald's story is here.
Scott's veto track record does come with an asterisk, however. In that first year, he vetoed more than $615 million, but nearly half of the amount, or $305 million, was legislative authorization for an environmental land-buying program to be funded from sales of surplus land. Going back to the 2011-2012 fiscal year, here are Scott's yearly veto totals:
Only once has Scott used the line-item veto sparingly. That was in 2014, the year he ran for re-election, when he removed a paltry $69 million from the budget.
The budget headed to Scott's desk is almost $15 billion larger than the first budget he signed back at The Villages in 2011. That's $15 billion in growth in six years.
Scott was frustrated and disappointed by the Legislature's willful refusal to support his budget priorities in 2017. The budget awaiting his signature essentially abolishes Enterprise Florida and, in a separate bill, reduces VISIT Florida to a $25 million shell of itself. Scott can use his veto pen to get even, which recalls a line from Mario Puzo's best-seller, The Godfather: "Revenge is a dish that tastes best when served cold."