Gov. Rick Scott signed the state’s $70 billion budget at a ceremony held in Cunningham Creek Elementary School in St. Johns County at noon today. The governor vetoed $142.7 million in line items, including money for specialized health programs.
The budget, yet again, makes steep cuts to health care services and higher education.
This year’s $70 billion budget has been criticized by Democrats in the Legislature and by advocacy groups for low-income Floridians for its deep cuts to public services. Toward the end of the legislative session, labor unions and activists traveled to Tallahassee to denounce cuts to higher education, Medicaid, and reimbursements for hospitals that serve the poor and assisted living facilities. Protesters argued it was a “shame” that businesses continue to receive huge tax breaks in the state as safety net programs for the poor receive devastating cuts.
Because of Scott’s power to veto parts of the budget, these services are going to see even more cuts. Scott’s line-item vetoes last year included about $180 million in “turkeys” pointed out by Florida Tax Watch, a nonprofit critical of government spending.
As I reported last week, the group’s recommendations for line-item vetoes this year include an item that awards half a million dollars to a community health center in Apopka that was created to provide specialized health care to a community experiencing a high rate of environmentally caused illnesses. The same allocation was included in last year’s budget until Scott vetoed it.
This year, according to a list of Scott’s vetoes, the Apopka Health Center will, yet again, lose these funds.
Among a slew of health programs, the group also recommended vetoing $250,000 for Camillus House, a South Florida-based nonprofit “that provides humanitarian services to men, women, and children who are poor and homeless.” Scott also vetoed this funding today.
Click here (pdf.) for a list of Scott’s vetoes.