Florida legislators finally hand over budget to Gov. Scott

Posted June 04, 2017

Scott signed into law the $82 billion state budget for 2017-18 after lawmakers agreed to spend another $215 million or so on public schools during a three-day special session set for next week.

At the special session June 7-9, he said he will be asking the Legislature to add $100 per student in K-12 school funding, establish a new $85 million job growth grant program and increase funding to the state's tourism marketing arm to keep it at its current level.

Scott had threatened to veto the entire $84 billion dollar spending plan when lawmakers gutted the state's tourism procurement agency, Visit Florida, and severely cut the state's job procurement agency, Enterprise Florida.

The vetoes included individual projects worth $409 million - much of the rest represented Scott's rejection of efforts to take money from dedicated trust funds.

The Republican governor remains angered over the Legislature's decision to slash spending for economic development and tourism incentives, as well as rejecting his call for $200 million to fix the Herbert Hoover dike around Lake Okeechobee.

The state will also set aside $85 million to help lure companies, but the money can not be used as incentive for a specific company. Instead it will be spent on workforce training as well as public works projects.

"I think it's a win for Florida families, which is the most important thing for me", Scott said.

Indeed, that support is reflected in the massive amount of input Scott's office has received from Floridians since May 8 urging him to sign or veto the bill.

But the compromise between Scott and legislative leaders, especially with House Speaker Richard Cocoran, had its price: the governor had to come up with enough money to pay for the restored funding.

Corcoran, who had railed against economic development spending as "corporate welfare", insisted there has been a "meeting of minds" because the state will no longer offer money directly to one business.

Scott said this is something now in review. But absent newfound money, it is very unlikely that lawmakers will again pump up the budget with pet projects, knowing that Scott's veto pen is still unsheathed.

Democrats are particularly opposed to HB 7069, which also has drawn criticism from many public education leaders and some top Republicans.

"This bill will not help our students, our teachers, our school employees or our public schools".

A proposal for $750,000 for medical cannabis research at the Moffitt Cancer Center was snuffed as the money was tied to a failed effort (SB 406) by Legislators to carry out a voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana.

Despite the legislature not reaching an agreement on medical marijuana sales, the issue is not on the call for the special session.