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Politics

Rick Scott Vetoes Go Far and Wide

May 20, 2013 - 6:00pm

Gov. Rick Scott spread the pain.

As Scott signed a $74.1 billion state budget Monday, he used his line-item veto power to eliminate proposals that ranged from spending $14 million on a building project at Gulf Coast State College in the Panhandle to earmarking $20,000 for the Hialeah Junior Fire Academy in South Florida.

"My filter was this,'' Scott said. "One, is it going to help our families get more jobs? Two, will it help improve our education system in our state? And three, will it make government more efficient so we can keep the cost of living low in our state?"

In issuing $368 million in vetoes, the governor spared no region of the state and showed he was willing to delete projects backed by powerful lawmakers. The lawmakers who got zapped included Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who supported the Gulf Coast State College project and also saw vetoes of other projects in Northwest Florida.

Gaetz, who last week reacted angrily when the group Florida TaxWatch called for vetoes of some of the projects, issued a statement that was more philosophical about Scott's decisions.

"While many will disagree with some of Governor Scott's line-item vetoes, that is his constitutional role as chief executive,'' Gaetz said.

But Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, criticized Scott for reversing legislative budget decisions.

"As a newcomer to the office and the process, the governor misses a critical understanding about the role of the Legislature in crafting a spending plan,'' Smith said. "As he sits high and looks down low, he seems to be under the mistaken impression that all good ideas for job creation originate in the governor's mansion."

Here are samples of Scott's vetoes in different regions of the state:

NORTHWEST FLORIDA:

-- Gulf Coast State College science, technology, engineering and math building: $14 million
-- Old Jackson County High School in Marianna: $6 million
-- Mossy Head Industrial Park infrastructure in Walton County: $1.8 million
-- Okaloosa County Health Department mobile dental and medical units: $1.725 million
-- Gadsden County mobile health unit: $200,000.

NORTHEAST FLORIDA:

-- St. Johns River State College project in Orange Park: $2.5 million
-- The Arc Village of Jacksonville: $2 million
-- Learn2Earn education initiative in Jacksonville: $500,000
-- Nassau County sheriff's administration building: $500,000
-- St. Augustine historical documentary film: $500,000.

CENTRAL FLORIDA:

-- Lakeland Regional Medical Center project for graduate medical education: $2.5 million
-- Bushnell-Sumter County water main extension: $1.234 million
-- Pine Hills pedestrian bridge in Orange County: $800,000
-- National Entrepreneur Center in Orlando: $600,000
-- Orange County library research and development grant: $250,000.

WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA:

-- Hernando County broadband network: $2 million
-- Pasco K-20 STEM education magnet academy: $1.5 million
-- Metropolitan Ministries transitional family housing project in Pasco County: $1.3 million
-- Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) slots in Hillsborough County: $1.3 million
-- Pasco County drug initiative known as "Pasco be Smart": $1 million.

SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA:

-- Florida Gulf Coast University Renewable Energy Institute: $7.5 million
-- Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) slots in Lee County: $2.196 million
-- Historic Hendry County courthouse renovation: $1.5 million
-- Fort Myers/Cape Coral reclaimed water distribution pipeline: $900,000
-- Hardee County regional wastewater service improvements: $500,000.

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA:

-- Bethesda Hospital in Palm Beach County special Medicaid payment: $3.629 million
-- Violence prevention unit in Palm Beach County: $550,000
-- Broward County transportation hub: $500,000
-- Holocaust Documentation and Education Center: $500,000
-- Dade Correctional Institution compost machine: $100,000.

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