Local

Scott Releases $74.2 Billion Budget

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Florida Money
Politics

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – In an election year nothing sells quite as well as tax cuts and with a tough gubernatorial election ahead this year, Governor Rick Scott released his 2015 budget that will target millions in tax cuts among other programs.

The budget proposal is a wish-list of priorities from the governor’s office, but the Legislature may ignore the budget in favor of other proposals. Governor Scott’s office titled the 2015 budget, “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget.”

Scott came into office promising to shrink government, even when there is more revenue. Scott called the 2011 Florida budget of $70.3 billion, “bloated,” according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald. His new budget comes in at $74.196 billion, around $300 million less than this year’s budget.

According to the Herald, the new budget will reduce state debt by $170 million and will cut roughly 1,200 jobs, but many of those jobs are currently vacant. The Herald said roughly $500 million will be in “givebacks” like reducing the auto tag fee, lowering taxes on business rents and other programs.

Scott doesn’t mention the Affordable Care Act, specifically the Medicaid expansion. Scott built his political reputation railing against the ACA. After the state lost in the U.S. Supreme Court, Scott joined several other Republican governors in choosing not to expand Medicaid.

The political decision costs the state roughly $51 billion in federal aid over the next 10 years. It also comes as Florida continues to have the second highest rate of uninsured citizens in the nation. But Scott changed his mind last year and asked for the legislature to support the expansion.

The GOP-led House flatly refused to have anything to do with the ACA. A Florida Senate bill would have allowed the state to accept the funds to help get people into private insurance, but the bill died in the House. The bill has been reintroduced for the upcoming session.

Scott asked for $542 million in additional spending on public education. That would bring education spending almost in line with what it would have been a few years ago. Scott cut $1.3 billion in school funding in 2011 and lawmakers restored roughly $1 billion last year.

If the entire $542 million was added to the spending this year, education spending would have a net gain of roughly $242 million in the last three years.

His budget includes bonuses for state workers but no across-the-board pay raises. Scott is also proposing that tuition rates for colleges and universities remain at current levels.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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