The Budget Hits the Governor’s Desk and the Clock Starts Ticking

by | May 31, 2017

 

It’s been the $82.4 billion dollar question in Tallahassee–what will Gov. Rick Scott do with the budget plan passed by the Legislature a little over three weeks ago.

We’ll soon know. Well we’ll know sometime within the next 15 days.

The Legislature delivered the spending plan to the Governor’s Office on Wednesday.

That means the clock has started ticking on the governor who will now have 15 days to decide whether to allow it to stand as is, veto portions of the budget package or scrapping it in its entirety. Either of the latter two options would force legislators to return to Tallahassee to try it again.

While many believe a complete veto of the $83 billion budget is unlikely, Scott has let it be known that he is keeping all of his options on the table. The governor has been critical of lawmakers for gutting the budgets of two of his priority agencies–Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, which handle the state’s tourism marketing and economic development efforts.

“I am beginning to review the budget and I have the option of vetoing the entire budget or vetoing the items that circumvented the transparent process and do not have an acceptable return on investment for hardworking taxpayers,” Scott said the day after the budget was passed. “Just like I do every year, I will make my decisions based on what’s best for our families because my job is to wake up every day and fight for Floridians.”

Other groups have called on Scott to use his veto pen on other parts of the budget.

Public school advocates who believe public school students were shortchanged in the budget process want the governor to veto the $24.7 billion K-12 education budget, as well as a policy bill (HB 7069) that makes sweeping changes to schools and was largely agreed to behind closed doors.

Florida’s colleges are asking the governor to veto the $1.2 billion portion of the budget targeted for colleges. College officials are upset over a $30 million cut in remedial education funding.

What makes a partial or full veto of budget unlikely is that the Legislature can override a veto by a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate. The budget passed in both chambers by more than that amount.

What is more likely to happen is the governor will use his veto pen to make line item cuts with an emphasis on those projects important to lawmakers who were not supportive of the governor’s budget priorities.

Scott already has a reputation for not holding back when it comes to cutting projects in the budget that he doesn’t agree with. In six years he’s vetoed $1.9 billion in state spending.

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