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State News

Scott Unholsters Veto Pen Before Budget Arrives

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Governor Rick Scott’s highly unusual preemptive strike on the state budget has ended speculation about a special session to override his vetoes. But that hasn’t silenced his critics.

Two hundred and fifty-six million dollars in vetoes may sound like a lot, but it’s half of what Senate budget chief Tom Lee was expecting.  Even more astonishing, Scott released the list before the $82 billion budget landed on his desk.

Nobody can remember a governor doing that before. House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach reads several messages in all the red ink.

“You know his vetoes are pretty minimal, and you know, and I think he’s trying to back himself out of a situation that’s been quite embarrassing.”

Pafford says Scott released the list on the day of the presidential primary to draw attention away from his failures during the session.

Lawmakers didn’t come close to meeting Scott’s demand for $1 billion in tax cuts. They scuttled his $3 billion gambling deal with the Seminoles. And they refused his request for $250 million for business incentives.

Pafford says it’s no coincidence Scott vetoed roughly the same amount of money lawmakers refused to give him for business incentives.

“He released it in a fashion that I think hid the fact that he was making $250 million dollars- worth of vetoes.”

Scott may have used a scalpel, but he still left a mark.  He cut 3 million dollars for an emergency operations center, and another 3 million for a theater parking garage in Brevard County, home of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli.

Scott preserved $20 million for a University of Central Florida campus in the district of Senate President Andy Gardiner. But he also cut about $8 million in other construction and renovation funds for the school.