Gov. Rick Scott drew fire from the Republican leadership of the Florida Senate and cheers from fiscal conservatives, including in the House leadership, after vetoing more than $460 million from the state budget on Tuesday.
Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, fired away at fellow Republican Scott for the veto. Gardiner accused him of putting his “political agenda” over the need of Floridians. Scott and Gardiner stood on opposing sides in the debate over Medicaid expansion which undermined the budgetary process during the regular session and prompted the special legislative session that ended last week. The House stood with Scott in opposing Medicaid expansion.
“While Gov. Scott will undoubtedly spend the next several weeks traveling the state touting his record number of vetoes as a win for Florida’s families, there are many families across Florida who have seen their dreams shattered by his decisions today,” Gardiner said on Tuesday. “Families who had hoped their children born with unique abilities would have the opportunity to attend a post-secondary program, receive specialized job training and take part in the college experience, will see that dream postponed another year.
“The governor refused to support the Senate’s efforts to help the working poor in our state purchase private health insurance, yet vetoed nearly $10 million in funding for free and charitable clinics, again depriving these families of the chance for proactive primary care and pushing more and more Floridians without health insurance towards hospital emergency rooms when they are at their sickest and most vulnerable,” Gardiner added. “He also vetoed funding for primary-care residency programs and faculty to train physicians who work in rural and underserved areas.
“Nurses, pediatric physicians, and those serving the developmentally disabled in intermediate care facilities will not see the modest rate increase authorized by the Legislature,” Gardiner continued. "Members of the Florida State Fire Service, who put their lives on the line every day to protect our forests, will not see a $2,000 pay increase. With one line of the governor’s veto pen, these dedicated public servants, many of whom would qualify for Medicaid, will continue to earn approximately $24,000 per year.
“The governor also vetoed critical funding for the implementation of Amendment 1, including money appropriated to improve the water quality of our springs, acquire conservation land, and preserve historic sites,” Gardiner said.
“While I respect the governor’s authority to veto various lines within our budget, his clear disregard for the public policy merits of many legislative initiatives underscores that today’s veto list is more about politics than sound fiscal policy,” Gardiner concluded. “It is unfortunate that the messaging strategy needed to achieve the governor’s political agenda comes at the expense of the most vulnerable people in our state.”
Gardiner wasn’t the only Republican senator upset with Scott over his use of the line-item veto. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction.
“Thirteen sessions in the Florida Senate," Latvala noted. “I've never seen anything like this.”
Latvala spoke to the Miami Herald on Tuesday and insisted relations between Scott and the Legislature will only get worse.
“The governor has declared war on the Legislature,” Latvala claimed to the Miami Herald, blaming Scott’s staff for most of the problems.
But that sentiment certainly wasn’t reflected in the Florida House’s leadership. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, praised Scott for signing the budget on Tuesday morning; Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, also cheered Scott’s signing of the budget.
“Hard-working taxpayers deserve to have their money zealously protected," Corcoran posted on Twitter. “Well done, Governor!”
Americans for Prosperity’s (AFP) Florida chapter cheered Scott for using the line-item veto.
“Gov. Scott should be applauded for carefully studying the budget and vetoing $461 million in wasteful spending" said Chris Hudson, AFP’s director in Florida. “It was unfortunate that the Legislature didn’t focus on fulfilling its promise of delivering almost $700 million in tax relief after an additional $300 million appeared in the budget overnight. The governor did the right thing by vetoing projects that don’t reflect the core roles of government.”
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