Sunday, July 22, 2018
Politics

Gov. Rick Scott signs record $82 billion budget in speedy fashion

TALLAHASSEE — Without fanfare, Gov. Rick Scott said late Thursday he has signed a record $82 billion budget for next fiscal year, keeping intact $256.1 million in line-item vetoes that he foreshadowed earlier this week.

John Tupps, deputy communications director in Scott's office, announced the governor's actions in an email shortly after 8 p.m., with no immediate accompanying statement from Scott.

On Tuesday, in a highly unusual move, Scott released a pre-emptive list of planned vetoes and said, "I will be signing this budget into law as soon as the Florida Legislature delivers it to me." He did just that, with his signature coming the same day the budget reached his desk.

The governor's speedy signing prevented interest groups or individual lawmakers from mounting pressure on the governor to reverse himself on any planned vetoes.

The veto list was far less extensive than lawmakers had feared, widely viewed as a signal by Scott that he didn't want to stir any more dissent within the Capitol. Scott and his fellow Republicans who control the Legislature have had a shaky relationship stretching back to the last session.

This year, however, even after Scott's priorities for job incentive funds and tax cuts were rejected or marginalized by the Legislature, the governor showed little evidence of retribution.

Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, said on Tuesday Scott was sending "an olive branch" by the more modest veto list. But Diaz added that it was no coincidence that Scott's vetoes totaled $256 million, very close to a $250 million fund for Scott to lure jobs to Florida that lawmakers rejected.

Scott's string of vetoes includes after-school mentoring and youth crime-prevention programs, family counseling and inmate re-entry efforts, a new jail in De Soto County, a new roof for North Lauderdale City Hall and a cattlemen's arena in Hardee County.

Among projects left intact was $17 million for relocating USF's Morsani College of Medicine to downtown Tampa.

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