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Politics

Senate and House Leadership Split on Rick Scott's Vetoing of $461 Million in the Budget

June 23, 2015 - 2:45pm
Andy Gardiner, Rick Scott, and Richard Corcoran
Andy Gardiner, Rick Scott, and Richard Corcoran

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.”

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

Comments

THE TIME IS NOW : WE MUST REMEMBER THEM ALL!!! It's tough to tell who's more whiny and persistent: children on a road trip asking "are we there yet?" or politicians asking citizens "have you changed your mind yet?" about term limits. Every piece of data shows that, not only have people not changed their minds, but greater numbers are embracing term limits now than ever before. As legislators comically claim Americans love career politicians, citizens in three states are disputing that narrative by launching grassroots campaigns for term limits. Mississippi is the first battleground, where former U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel's PAC has started gathering signatures to put a measure on the 2016 ballot that would limit lawmakers and statewide officeholders to eight consecutive years in office. McDaniel says his goal "is increase participation and make elective office more accessible to people who want to serve." Various studies show that's exactly what term limits do. Residents of Utah are also fighting back against the establishment by starting Utah Term Limits NOW, a ballot drive to term limit the state's five highest-ranking executive offices, including the Governor and Attorney General. State Auditor John Dougall, who would be personally affected by the limits, thinks the idea is a good one. Term limits bring "new change, new insight, a new perspective to what is going on," he told press. Arkansas citizens had their term limits ripped away by a legislative scam last year, but they're back to counterpunch against careerism and cronyism with a fresh initiative. Restore Term Limits, launched by USTL Director Tim Jacob and Arkansas activist Bob Porto, would bring back the state's original six and eight-year term limits, along with a 10-year overall cap on service in the legislature. The measure also bars legislators from tinkering with their own term limits in the future - a very smart move. If politicians and their special interest kingmakers believe the American people have stopped demanding term limits, they must not be paying attention to us. But as you know, that wouldn't be a new development. If you'd like to send a message to politicians today, contribute to U.S. Term Limits by clicking the big red button below. Every dollar we receive goes directly into citizen-led efforts to hold elected officials accountable.

Here is a novel idea. Why not take a portion of the savings from Governor Scotts employees and invest it in our state's public workforce (also called state workers). $240 million would give state workers a 12% pay increase. 12% would recover just under 66% of the earnings state workers have lost since 2006 due to inflation and the 3% shifted to their retirement. Please understand that Florida's state workers were not well paid even in 2006. A viewing of the annual state of the state workforce reports shows Florida ranks the lowest in compensation costs of all 50 states, about 19% lower than the second lowest (Nevada). A 12% increase would still leave Florida ranked 50th (or first depending on your point of view). The state workforce is not-for-profit whose sole purpose is serving the citizens of Florida. Unfortunately, it appears the Governor and legislature are more interested in destroying public service than making it function most effectively. For those who hate government and wish its demise, be careful what you wish for.

Get used to it, med industry. When Cuban medical tourism opens up, Fla healthcare will have to cut costs anyway. May as well get started now by doing without Medicaid entirely.

Sens. Gardiner and Latvala need to be remembered when next years session begins.

It might just be time for Latvala to pry himself off the government mammary and try to enjoy REAL retirement. I think we'll be able to get along without his brand of posturing...

Go Governor ! The Senate may not agree with your veto,...but your constituents do ! The "emergency rooms" can handle it...they always have and always will. Thanks for thinking of the citizen-taxpayer...maybe that will "catch on" across the rest of the country.

Yeah, the emergency rooms can handle it...AT OUR EXPENSE! At least show a basic understanding of how those bills get paid. I'm not happy about paying $10 for an aspirin. I am a "citizen-taxpayer"

There were some turkeys cut and they deserved to be. Much that was cut was political revenge against lawmakers that Scott is angry with. More partisan politics of the worst type. Hurting Floridians for revenge and to make points with his base. Too bad many of the above commenters only read this right-wing rag instead of checking some other sources as well.

Without question Scott and the House leadership are morons who are completely out of touch with the needs of Floridians. Going to be a long three years with Scott, Crisafulli and Corcoran (the dancing cockroach).

If the items cut didn't go through the process that the others did, or had very limited benefits in very limited areas, they deserve to be cut. Turkeys should be illegal so that future legislatures and governors can't stuff the budget.

While the Governor and legislative branches go with out affordable health care insurance. Which looks bad on all Florida's as a whole

I applaud what Governor Scott has done. If the hospitals don't like his line veto s on their perks then they can use their own money to fund the medical projects. They certainly have enough of it.

Senators Latvala and Gardiner = "Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph, blah, blah, blah...", while Rick Scott and the FL House = "Do the right thing". If the senate thinks they have what it takes, override Scott's veto. Put up or shut up, Senators.

While the avg. citizen's income have dropped 5% to 10%, state workers keep getting pay increases. Its like the legislature thinks that their elected to be Santa Clause for the privileged few. Love to see political payola VETOED... Damn good job Gov. Scott !!!

There are three kinds of public servant: elected officials, appointed officials, and civil servants (aka state workers). The vast majority of state workers (excluding law enforcement, judges) do not "keep" getting pay increases. In fact, civil servants make anywhere from 15-18% less in inflation adjusted dollars since 2006. Please get your facts correct when you make a statement as there is enough misinformation out there already. Read the state of the workforce report put out by the department of management services to understand the real status of state worker compensation.

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