Calls In South Florida For Gov. Scott To Veto Budget

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Lawmakers, teachers, school administrators and others in South Florida, and across the state, are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to veto part or all of the $82.4 million budget approved by the legislature.

Particularly targeted for criticism is the education budget.

“House Bill 7069 is a disaster,” said Rep. Bobby Dubose at a news conference of lawmakers and education leaders Monday in Tamarac.

HB 7069 is a portion of the state education budget that, among other things, gives huge sums from public to private schools.

“Suddenly, we’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars to throw at out of state, unproven charter schools?” asked Sen. Gary Farmer.

The legislature also allotted millions to teacher bonuses that critics say are pegged to an unproven standard.

“We do not agree with legislation that gives yearly bonuses based on test scores,” said Abby Freedman, the chairperson of the Broward School Board.

The legislature’s budget leaves per-student funding flat.  Miami-Dade, the largest district in the state, is getting what is essentially a decrease in funding.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho tweeted out a photo of a meeting with Gov. Scott Monday, asking Scott to pull out his veto pen.

“Outside of a recession, this year is the worst year in education funding in the state of Florida,” Carvalho said.

Scott spoke at Jungle Island Monday to a group of tourism leaders. Scott has been livid over his fellow Republicans’ refusal to fund tourism marketing, and dollars to lure new companies to the state.

Despite a statewide stump and ad campaign by Scott, the legislature trashed his requests for tourism money and business incentives. House and Senate leaders called the spending wasteful.

They have defended the education budget as one that fully funds public schools while giving students “choice” in where they want to go to school.

The state spending plan was crafted at the eleventh hour, behind closed doors.

Scott hasn’t ruled out a veto.

“This budget was done in secret. I didn’t get to see it, like you didn’t get to see it, until the end,” Scott told reporters on Monday.

As for school spending, there was a call at the Broward news conference for parents and others to take to the streets.

“We need to make calls, we need to rally, we need to march!” declared School Board Member Rosalind Osgood.

Already furious with lawmakers, the governor finds himself under tremendous pressure from unlikely allies to reject much or the entire state budget.

Should he veto the entire plan, it would be the first time in a quarter century.

It is unlikely Scott would veto the total budget, given that the veto would most likely be overturned by the House and Senate. Both bodies approved the plan overwhelmingly.

Instead, political analysts believe, the governor will most likely take a line-item veto approach, targeting projects of the legislative leaders who most publicly attacked his proposed budget proposal.

More from Gary Nelson
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