Florida Tax Watch, a nonprofit critical of government spending, today released its list of recommendations of programs and spending it believes Gov. Rick Scott should veto in the state’s $70 billion budget.
Last year, Scott’s line-item vetoes included about $180 million in “turkeys” pointed out by Tax Watch. The cuts, which were criticized by many for being “unnecessarily harmful” and austere, were levied on programs such as special medical care for farmworkers and public health programs for at-risk women and children.
The group’s list of recommendations this year (.pdf) also includes cuts to a health programs, charitable organizations and higher education projects.
Among the recommended line-item vetoes is 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 years budget, until Scott vetoed it.
The group also suggests that Scott veto $250,000 for Camillus House, a South Florida-based nonprofit “that provides humanitarian services to men, women and children who are poor and homeless,” according to the group’s website. Last year, Scott vetoed $12 million from the state’s general revenue fund last year that was earmarked for the National Veterans’ Homeless Support Group for “homeless housing assistance grants,” which was also recommended by Tax Watch.
Here are some of the other proposed cuts to health programs:
- $200,000 for a countywide mobile health unit in Gadsden County
- $360,000 for midwifery services along the Treasure Coast
- $1,236,473 for a statewide Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
- $250,000 for the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Broward County
The group is also calling for millions of dollars to be eliminated for water projects throughout the state, as well as many projects for universities and colleges.
According to the group’s announcement of the recommended cuts (.pdf), Tax Watch argues that eliminating many of these “turkeys” would facilitate smaller cuts for other important programs. The group argues that if these projects were cut, there would be money for the state to “restore part of the Medicaid reimbursement rate cut to hospitals of $304 million, or fully restore the cuts to nursing homes of $35.2 million or substance abuse and mental health cuts of $2.1 million,” for example.
Medicaid reimbursement cuts and nursing home cuts were among the subjects of protests held by labor unions and activists who traveled to Tallahassee to denounce the cuts to many parts of the budget during this past legislative session. 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.
Democrats in the Legislature have argued that both projects and basic government functions could be funded adequately if the state committed to opening the state’s tax base and closing loopholes for business — as well as not turning down numerous grants for public health programs from the federal government.
Scott’s deadline to sign the bill and veto programs expires in about one week.