MANATEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed off a new state budget that includes funding for two projects seen as key to efforts to build Manatee County's sports industry.
In the budget are $5 million to aid in the continued development of the rowing center at Benderson Park, on the Manatee-Sarasota county line, and $2.3 million to help IMG Academy attract events to its Bradenton campus.
Also included are $1 million for a Manatee County water project; and funding for a beach renourishment project on Anna Maria Island.
Scott vetoed nearly $368 million in spending from the state’s budget, using his line-item authority to strike out scores of projects ranging from a $50 million coast-to-coast bike trail to tens of millions in college and university tuition.
Scott’s extensive veto list is more than twice as large as his list last year, and his largest since his first year in office. It slashed state spending from $74.5 million to $74.1 million.
Repeatedly citing the need for a statewide impact and a return on investment for all spending decisions, Scott vetoed more than $25 million in local water projects, millions in spending for education programs and school construction, museums, reentry programs and other social services. Many lawmakers hoping to include so-called “turkey” in the budget during the first year of a surplus in years will be disappointed as their hometown projects were axed by Scott.
As expected, Scott vetoed a 3 percent tuition increase for state colleges, universities and workforce education. In announcing the veto, he included comments of support from three community college presidents and University of Florida President Bernie Machen.
“As a result of the additional funds contained in the budget, the University of Florida will not be seeking a tuition increase for next year,” Machen said.
Scott had hoped all 12 state university presidents would collectively sign a letter rejecting any tuition revenue increases, but they refused. Although Scott said in his veto letter that his intent is to maintain tuition and fees at current levels, state law requires tuition to rise to equal the rate of inflation, which is 1.7 percent this year.
One of Scott’s largest veto items: $50 million for the state’s Coast-to-Coast connector, a bike trail stretching from St. Petersburg to Titusville. Scott said his Transportation Work Program already includes more than $57 million in statewide funding for transit greenway projects, and that the connector could be completed over time.
“The worthwhile project contemplated by the Coast-to-Coast connector,” Scott wrote, “can be built incrementally and consistent with a prioritization of gaps in the existing trail system.”
--Other vetoes in the budget below:
$291.9 million to add managed lanes on State Road 826 (Dolphin) and I-75 in Miami-Dade County;$154 million for Homestead Extension of the Florida Turnpike$236 million to add lanes on I-75 ;$143 million to add lanes and rehabilitate pavement in Pasco County
$150,000 for Pinellas Ex-offender Reentry Coalition to educate potential corporations and employers on the benefits of hiring released inmates$120,000 for Pasco Sheriff’s Office local probation program$185,000 for Tampa Crossroads inmate reentry program (Scott: “appears to circumvent the competitive procurement process.”$1 million for “Civil Legal Assistance Program: Scott said money from a National Mortgage settlement could be used to help low income Floridians gain access to legal aid.$1 million for the Pasco County Drug Initiative
$14 milion for a science and technology building at Gulf Coast State College in Senate President Don Gaetz’s district$5 million in building maintenance funding at Florida State University$2 million to pay for housing and living expenses for veterans during college breaks$3 million to develop an abuse prevention curriculum to be used in elementary schools$150,000 for the Sandra DeLucca Development Center in Miami that services children with disabilities
Health and Human Services$1 million for a crisis stabilization unit in Fort Walton Beach$2 million in extra Medicaid funding for Bethesda Hospital in Palm Beach County$4 million in additional funding for private home nurses$2 million for the ARC of Jacksonville$500,000 for homeless programs in Okaloosa and Walton County
Natural Resources/Environmental Growth/Management Transportation
$25 million in local water projects$250,000 in “Stormwater improvements for West Miami$3 million wastewater treatment facility in Walton County,$50 million for the state’s Coast-to-Coast connector, a bike trail stretching from St. Petersburg to Titusville.
$1.8 million for displaced homemakers programs, saying the job-training services primarily for divorced or widowed housewives is “duplicative.”:$1 million for economic gardening program at University of Central Florida$2 million Hernando County Broadband network$1.8 million Mossy Head Industrial Park Infrastructure (Walton County)$1.2 million for Urban League (of Broward County) – Enterprenuership program;$200,000 Coral Gables museum$1 million – Black Cultural Tourism Enhancement$500,000 Holocaust Documentation and Education Center
Judicial Branch$34 million in proviso language to cover the Department of Corrections’ budget shortfall