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Gov. Scott rolls out final spending proposals Tuesday

“This year, I have a lot of priorities,” the governor said.
File photo of Scott.
File photo of Scott.
Published Nov. 13, 2017|Updated Nov. 13, 2017

For the last time as governor, Rick Scott will roll out a set of budget recommendations Tuesday for the Florida Legislature to consider in its upcoming election-year session that begins Jan. 9.

As usual, Scott will soon realize that he and lawmakers will differ on where the state should spend more money.

"Every year you have priorities, and this year I have a lot of priorities," Scott told capital reporters a few days ago.

Scott will release his spending priorities in detail at 10:30 a.m. at a business in Jacksonville. The governor chose a Jacksonville sign company for a similar announcement in 2015

The Republican governor has already called for a $220 million increase in spending on environmental programs, $180 million in tax cuts, $50 million to fight the opioid epidemic, $1 million for greater security at Jewish day schools and a $4,000 starting pay raise for Florida Highway Patrol troopers.

Scott says the state will have more than enough money to pay for all of his spending priorities, but the Legislature's chief economist, Amy Baker, has cautioned lawmakers that their spending has been outpacing revenue projections and that the revenue forecast for future years will be "much worse" because of Hurricane Irma's impact on the state's economy.

The most notable difference between this budget preview and last year's is that Scott is no longer battling with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes.

When Scott rolled out last year's spending plan, Corcoran dismissed it as wasteful and targeted the state's job creation incentive programs at Enterprise Florida for elimination. That didn't happen, and by the end of the 2017 session Scott and Corcoran had put aside their past differences and were political allies.

[ Prior coverage: Gov. Scott proposes $1.1 billion spending increase for state budget ]

Another difference is that 2018 is an election year, and Scott is widely expected to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. That will ensure that all of Scott's spending priorities will be viewed through the prism of election-year politics.

A governor's budget is a starting-off point in negotiations with the Legislature, which makes most key spending decisions. State lawmakers write the annual budget, but Scott has the power to veto line-item appropriations.


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