Will records fall today, along with budget turkeys?by John Kennedy | May 26th, 2011
With Rick Scott poised to sign into law a new state budget, the focus Thursday morning remains on whether the first-year governor might also be out to set a new state record.
Scott has said — without providing details — that he plans to veto portions of the $69.7 billion spending plan approved earlier this month by lawmakers.
Tea party activists are expected to form a large share of the audience at today’s signing ceremony. And leading lawmakers think Scott could make a political statement by axing hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed spending.
Could he top former Gov. Charlie Crist’s $459.2 million record for vetoes?
“That wouldn’t surprise me,” said Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, chairman of the Senate’s Health and Human Services budget committee. “I think there’s a real possibility that the veto amount exceeds $459 million.”
The budget approved by lawmakers cuts $2.6 billion from schools, health and social service programs, bringing per-pupil funding to its lowest level in six years, while imposing deep cuts to hospitals, nursing homes and HMOs. Some economists warn the spending plan, which takes effect July 1, could slow the state’s recovery by adding more Floridians to the jobless ranks.
But among conservative tea party voters, who helped vault Scott to a narrow victory over Democratic opponent Alex Sink last fall, the Legislature’s spending plan is a failure.
“We were all disappointed that the House and Senate came out with a much higher budget than Gov. Scott proposed,” said Robin Stublen, a leader of the Charlotte County Tea Party, who helped draw supporters to Thursday’s signing event at The Villages, the Central Florida retirement community.
“But I think (Scott) will do what he thinks is right,” Stublen added. “He’s not concerned with his poll numbers or his next election.”