Amid a flurry of hometown spending, budget deal doneby John Kennedy | April 28th, 2014
The final touches to a roughly $75 billion state budget were settled Monday by House and Senate negotiators, clearing the way for an on-time finish this week to the 2014 Legislature.
A $1.2 billion surplus from the state’s improving economy eased spending decisions by budget-writers as they raced toward Friday’s session-end deadline.
But the extra cash also allowed lawmakers to steer millions of state dollars toward hometown projects – for arts programs, social services, water projects and college buildings. Many likely face the threat of Gov. Rick Scott’s veto pen.
“The budget isn’t about numbers, it’s about values and priorities,” said Senate Budget Chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, telegraphing a theme lawmakers will likely use in urging Scott to go light on vetoes this election year.
Negron and his House counterpart, Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, worked through the weekend settling a host of education, health care, transportation and environmental issues that had divided the two sides.
Among the last issues settled Monday were spending for college and university construction and almost $74 million scattered across some 200 water projects across the state.
In the mix, $6 million for Palm Beach State College’s long-sought Loxahatchee Groves campus – vetoed three times in recent years by Scott and his predecessor, Gov. Charlie Crist – and several wastewater projects in Belle Glade, Riviera Beach and Royal Palm Beach.