Tuesday, Governor Rick Scott stood before a chalkboard at Cunningham Creek Elementary School (Jacksonville) and announced that the state's 2012 budget contains over $1 billion more in education spending than last year’s budget.
In the Tampa Bay area, Scott vetoed $200,000 for stormwater improvements at Hillsborough Avenue and 30th Street in Tampa and $100,000 for a natural habitat park on the Seminole campus of St. Petersburg College and $500,000 for the Florida Aquarium.
The state’s unemployment rate has dipped several points since Scott arrived in Tallahassee and on Tuesday, he signed a $70 billion balanced budget that won’t please everyone but seems fair to many others.
Scott made the over $1 billion increase for public schools a center piece of his and legislators’ efforts to spare school systems from cuts.
While Scott authorized a 15 percent tuition increase for universities, he called on the Board of Governors to limit increases to 5 percent.
"I'm very comfortable the Board of Governors will do that sort of review and the right thing will happen," Scott said.
Scott vetoed nearly $143 million in spending this year compared to $615 million in cuts last year after he inherited a bloated budget.
"We're doing the right things for Floridians," Scott said, adding that his "filter" in judging line-item projects was whether they would produce a return on investment. "We've got to make sure the dollars are spent well."
His veto chopped scores of projects, from $10,000 for the state prison system to try to find cheaper phone service for inmates to $12.3 million in payments to the state's expressway authorities.
Scott also vetoed $250,000 to provide security for the Oct. 22 presidential debate scheduled at Lynn University in Boca Raton, $500,000 for the Dan Marino Foundation Vocational School for disabled kids, $1.5 million for the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence and $100,000 for the Autism Center of Miami.