Florida uses a system of Line Item Veto: a method the Governor can use to nullify or block specific parts of a bill - usually a spending project - without blocking the entire bill. It makes it harder for the legislature to override line items, whereas a full veto is easier to break if enough legislators are pissed about the Governor being a total dick.
Under normal circumstances, and with sane leadership in office, the Line Item Veto would work as suggested: Keeping a lid on wasteful or questionable spending projects (pork barrel).
But we're talking about Rick "Screw the State" Scott here.
Once he got the bill for signing he promptly shaved about $461 Million from the $78 Billion budget. Granted, 461 million doesn't look like much out of 78 BILLION, but we're talking a LOT of money for projects now looking at massive funding gaps. Take all the pennies out of your pocket and start counting up to $461 million, and you'll kinda get an idea how much money we're talking about.
In fact, the $461 million cut via Line Item Veto is close to a record. No other Governor cut as much before in one blow.
And if you're thinking that Scott is doing this out of some sense of fiscal prudence, you're overlooking some very key facts:
- Rick "No Ethics" Scott is only in this for himself and his plans for future political meddling;
- A lot of the cuts look to be vindictive against various Senate and House Republicans who tried to push a Medicaid Expansion plan in opposition to Scott's hardline stance.
- The cuts blind-sided legislators who were not notified beforehand. In fact, Scott did his cuts in near privacy, surrounded only by his own staffers. There's a sense that decorum and respect to the Legislature were ignored.
Scott went and slashed funding for projects that had previously been funded before without him taking a chainsaw to them. Scott slashed funding to colleges, to job training programs, to social aid for substance abuse treatment, to public libraries (he cut $1 million from the East Lake Public Library near my homebase of Palm Harbor: Scott was already on my Enemies List before this, now he's solidified the top spot for the rest of his soon-to-be-short career).
There's a lot of anger among his own party members tonight. I'm not entirely sure the old adage of "Protect Your Own" is going to serve Scott much when he's got heavy hitters like the Senate President Andy Gardiner ordering an infinite supply of Rick Scott voodoo dolls and needles. I mean, here's the quotes from the elected officials:
"The governor has declared war on the Legislature." - Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, after Scott cut funding for several Tampa Bay projects, including a marina, library and water taxi initiative.
"While Governor Scott will undoubtedly spend the next several weeks traveling the state touting his record number of vetoes as win for Florida's families, there are many families across Florida who have seen their dreams shattered by his decisions today." - Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, on vetoes of programs meant to help children with special needs, which were his top priority.
"I am profoundly disappointed . . . Our forest firefighters put their lives on the line. They are demonstratively under paid relative to peers." - Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, on learning that pay raises for the state's 606 Forest Service firefighters were being nixed.
"How does he allow a good program to pass muster last year and then vetoes the same without any reason or cause? I've seen our governor many times show that inconsistency and honestly I believe many members of the Florida Legislature are coming to realize you cannot trust the guy." - Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano on Scott's cut of $2.5 million (including $1.5 million approved last year) for a conservation easement in Heritage Lake Estates. (I mentioned Fasano before: one of the earliest critics of Scott from within the State GOP itself.)If you read that linked article, you'll notice the only favorable quotes were from lobbyists happy to see Scott slash-and-burn the government they despise.
If Rick "In It For Myself" Scott thinks his Line Item Veto is going to win any fans, he's going to find out that angering up your fellow pols - people who can find ways to make your life miserable - isn't going to provide him the networks among other politicians he needs to win more people over. All he's done is satisfy his lobbyist buddies and the extremist base opposed to ANY government spending at all: people already in his pocket. I doubt he's winning over any new friends with this.
We're going to witness over the next year the consequences of Scott's brutal cuts. A lot of state agencies will have to cut jobs and cut services that even middle-income Floridians are going to notice being gone. Some agencies will need to raise fees higher to compensate their own budgets. Social services - already one of the poorest-funded in the nation - are going to go bone-dry in the worst ways. Families and children are going to get hit the worst.
At what point is all that pain going to wake the voters and residents up to the fact that Rick "Fund Raising For Fun And Profit" Scott is destroying the very state he's supposedly sworn to serve?