This week, Governor Rick Scott (R-Fla.) signed a 78.2 billion budget that included a historic $461.4 million in line item spending cuts, among the largest cuts ever made by a governor. This comes on the heels of a $429 million tax cut package, which he signed just last week.
Taxpayers have a friend in Gov. Scott, who said this of his cuts: “I went through the budget looking at every project and saying: What’s a statewide priority? Can I get a good return on investment? Has it gone through a state process?”
In his letter to the legislature, he explained why he line item vetoed specific projects by noting:
“Tax revenue is generated by Floridians who are working hard to provide for their families and we are committed to effectively using these dollars by investing them in areas with proven results. That is why I have vetoed $461.1 million in special projects.”
Below is a list of several special spending projects inserted into the budget by lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat alike:
- $300,000 for a water taxi on Clearwater Beach
- $1 million for the restoration of a marina in Pahokee
- $1 million to expand a library in Palm Harbor
- $5 million for “strategic land acquisition”
- $250,000 for the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American studies, which already received $600,000 for two prior reports
- $1.5 million for Teach for America
- $260,000 for the Therapeutic Performing Arts Therapy program
- $140,000 for “Nature’s Paradise”
- $500,000 for a children’s “ability center”
- $5.5 million for no-bid contracts for wetland/chemical treatment systems and two floating aquatic vegetative tilling treatment systems
- $550,000 for “promotional awards” at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services”
- $2 million for a horse park
- $250,000 for the Arcadia Rodeo
- $10 million in “Quiet Zone” improvements
- $500,000 in media campaigns to publicize the dangers of unlicensed real estate activity
- $500,000 for the Circus Arts Conservatory
- $500,000 for the relocation of the Miami Boat Show
- $61,366 for the a Plant Museum in Tampa
- $200,000 for a contemporary dance company in Miami
A health insurer also tried to pass on the costs of federal Obamacare taxes onto state taxpayers. Rick Scott put a stop to $136,000 in that expenditure and hundreds of thousands in tax dollars intended to fund electronic medical record systems for private organizations.
The governor also vetoed millions of dollars in local water treatment and improvement projects; expenditures the governor rightly argues must meet a statewide investment benefit.
At the conclusion of his letter, Scott again voluntarily reduced his state-funded salary to one cent per month.
For Republican governors looking for role models, one needs to look no further than the Sunshine State where a beacon of hope remains. Transparency remains an effective disinfectant for out-of-control spending and Scott’s vetoes send an effective message to legislators, even in years where the state has a surplus: taxpayers will not be swindled by back-room budget deals; the governor is watching.