TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed the more than $2 million in the state budget set aside for IMG Academy.
IMG Academy was originally slated to get $50,000 in the state budget, before a late budget meeting between both House and Senate members rocketed that amount to $2,050,000 without explanation.
Scott vetoed a total of about $461 million from the 2015-16 state budget. Manatee County and Bradenton projects saw vetoes totaling about $5.5 million. Scott's office announced the budget signing at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in a notice sent out at 8:23 a.m., keeping the event private.
Another $300,000 was cut from Manatee Glens for a residency program. It was listed with programs vetoed because "they duplicate record level funding for statewide graduate medical education programs."
Mary Ruiz, CEO of Manatee Glens, said the decision by Scott was "disappointing," but that she would try again next year. Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, and Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, echoed her disappointment.
"That would've made an
immediate impact to the psychiatry side of our community," Boyd said. Another veto he was particularly surprised by was $250,000 to the South Florida Museum's Backyard Universe, an interactive learning resource for children ages 2 through 8.
"That's not a lot of money," Boyd said, adding that despite his misgivings, he understood that Scott had his own priorities.
Martha Wells, development director at South Florida Museum, said though they were hoping for some state funds for the Backyard Universe, it didn't change their plans or delay construction.
"We hoped the state would see the value in this project, but we'll continue our normal fundraising with the public," Wells said.
Galvano, the Senate majority leader, was less forgiving, saying that the vetoes Scott employed would hurt families throughout Florida. He was especially dispirited by the veto of pay increases for forestry workers, which was statewide but would affect East Manatee in particular, and the Manatee ER Diversion program.
"It's unfortunate he felt the need to make those cuts after we already saw cuts on health care," Galvano said. "He's not being consistent with what he's done in the past. We're trying to figure out his reasons, but he's been erratic."
Chip McCarthy, senior vice president and co-managing director at IMG, said in a statement that they were disappointed in the veto but thankful for contributions of $7.3 million from the state in the past two years.
"We will continue to demonstrate that an investment in IMG Academy provides a tremendous return for the state and our local community through direct and indirect economic output," McCarthy said.
Earlier McCarthy said the academy planned to use the money for a campus project "to help attract leading sports performance businesses to the Bradenton area - meaning more jobs and investment in our community."
Ryan Tronovitch, spokesman for IMG, declined to give further information at the time on how the $2 million in funds would have been used or how they arrived at the $700 million economic impact figure.
Scott vetoed all state funds to IMG Academy in the 2015-16 budget, which received $7.3 million from the state in the past two years. It was vetoed under a list of programs that Scott wrote "circumvent current established grant review processes, or funding is available through other sources."
Projects spared by Scott include $2.5 million for new beach groins at Anna Maria Island's Cortez Beach; $1.5 million for Longboat Key beach renourishment; $500,000 for the Manatee Biological Treatment Unit; and $3.5 million to New College.
Nick Azzara, spokesman for Manatee County, said he was glad to see county projects get funding. The groins are already under way, and the biological treatment project will break ground next year to improve the county's water supply.
"The governor obviously scrutinized this year's budget more closely than ever, so we were extremely pleased to see that our local projects will receive state funding," he said.
Other hometown projects for the Manatee and Sarasota area struck down by Scott's veto pen include:
n $850,000 to University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
n $758,000 to the Able Trust and Goodwill Manasota
n $600,000 to Mote Marine Laboratory
n $500,000 to a Bradenton Tournament Sports Park
n $500,000 to a Manatee ER Division
n $500,000 in aid to local governments for grants to Mote Marine Laboratory
n $300,000 to Port Manatee for security improvements
n $250,000 to the Modern Pentathlon
n $250,000 to Sarasota County for Sarasota Bay restoration
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055 or at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter @KateIrby.