Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Editorial: Budget lacks long-term vision

Published May 20, 2013

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law on Monday a $74.1 billion state budget for 2013-14 that makes few waves thanks to an improving economy and a predictable list of vetoes totaling $368 million. Florida finally has returned to at least modestly investing in education and the environment. But Scott's veto of a 3 percent tuition increase for state colleges and universities is shortsighted, and his clumsy effort to extort promises from university presidents and others is inappropriate.

Scott's list of vetoes were full of lawmakers' pet projects — the dubious spending that often arises late in the legislative session, such as $50 million for the Coast-to-Coast connector. The concept of a statewide, east-west bike trail is not a bad one, but it deserves more scrutiny before tax dollars are spent.

Yet the budget shows once again that Tallahassee lacks leaders with long-term vision. On Monday, Scott boasted about a $300 million increase in funding for the state university system — just a year after leading the charge to cut the same amount even as he backed the outrageous creation of the state's 12th university, Florida Polytechnic, from the University of South Florida's Lakeland campus.

That's not to say next year's reinvestment in education isn't welcome. There is roughly $1 billion more for public schools, including $480 million for long-delayed teacher pay raises that Scott championed. But disappointingly, for a second year, the governor vetoed $3 million to expand a proven program to teach algebra to middle school students started by SRI International in Pinellas County — the very kind of innovation the state could use to improve math results.

Scott was similarly shortsighted on vetoing the 3 percent tuition increase for college and university students, who currently pay among the lowest in-state tuition in the nation. Scott on Monday argued Florida should be proud it offers cheap tuition but failed to acknowledge that the lost revenue means Florida will continue to spend dramatically less per student than most other states. At many universities, that will mean fewer and bigger classes and more faculty fleeing to higher-paying states. It will also mean many students won't get the courses they need to finish on time. Just one extra semester cancels out any tuition savings from Scott's veto.

Most unusual was how the governor tried to extract written promises or concessions from various potential recipients of state money, implying that without them he would veto line-items. He even tried to get state university presidents to sign a form letter that they wouldn't push for tuition increases before the Board of Governors. It was an odd tactic unbecoming the governor and interfered with the responsibilities of the Legislature and the Board of Governors.

Florida heads into 2013-14 with more money but not any better long-term vision for the future.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. David Straz Jr. passed away this week. JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The retired banker will be remembered for the range of his philanthropy.
  2. Lucia Hermo, with megaphone, leads chants during a rally against HB 314, the near-total ban on abortion bill, outside of the Alabama State House on Tuesday. [Photo by Mickey Welsh of the Montgomery Advertiser via AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Wednesday’s letters to the editor
  3.  Bill Day -- FloridaPolitics.com
  4. Jomari DeLeon, is pictured at at Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, Florida August 7, 2019. Jomari is three years into a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking. She sold 48 tablets of prescription tablets over two days to an undercover officer. JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |  Times
    Even Oklahoma, a state not famous for progressive reform, has done more than Florida to fix sentencing inequities, Carl Hiaasen writes.
  5. In this photo from June 28, 2019, a Coalition for Life St. Louis member waves to a Planned Parenthood staff member. ROBERT COHEN  |  AP
    Florida law already requires that parents be notified prior to an abortion, writes senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Florida.
  6. Students say the Pledge of Allegiance as thousands gather at a candlelight vigil for several students killed in the Saugus High School shooting in Central Park, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. CAROLYN COLE  |  AP
    We doctors treat diseases, but what of the epidemic of gun violence, writes a St. Petersburg doctor.
  7. Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association members protest outside of the school board building in Tampa in December 2017. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Here’s what readers had to say in Tuesday’s letters to the editor.
  8. Muhammad Abdur-Rahim points out the location of what is believed to be a former African-American cemetery next to the parking lot of Frank Crum Staffing located at 100 S. Missouri Ave. in Clearwater.  The empty lot is part of the former Clearwater Heights neighborhood which featured Bethany CME church and Williams Elementary School.   Photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019.  JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times
    Tampa Bay’s lost cemeteries are part of our collective history.
  9. A business man and woman holding a sign depicting their political party preference. SHARON DOMINICK  |  iStockphoto.com
    Here’s what readers had to say in Monday’s letters to the editor.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement