Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a new budget into law Tuesday, but not before vetoing nearly $500 million stuffed into the spending plan by legislators.
Scott signed the budget just days after the Florida Legislature approved it during an unusual June special session. State government would have been partially shut down if a new budget had not been in place by July 1.
The Republican governor praised the budget in an interview with The Associated Press shortly before he signed it. He noted that legislators had increased money for public schools, services for the disabled and set aside more than $400 million for tax cuts.
“It’s a good day for Florida families,” Scott said.
But Scott also used his line-item veto power to axe $461.4 million in spending from the budget. It is believed to be a record amount for budget vetoes.
The governor said the targets of his budget vetoes were projects that either did not go through a proper process before getting added or did not have a statewide impact.
“I try to use the best judgment I have,” Scott said. “I represent all 20 million people in the state.”
Legislators were unable to reach a deal on a budget during the regular session due to a divide over health care and health care spending.
House Republicans adjourned three days early because Senate leaders were insisting on a proposal to expand health care coverage by tapping into federal money tied to President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Senate Democrats filed a lawsuit against the House, and the state Supreme Court ruled that the House should not have left early.
The standoff led to the June special session where the House eventually voted on — and killed — the Senate health care proposal. The defeat led House and Senate budget negotiators to finally start working together. They worked largely behind closed doors to reach an agreement on the final budget approved last Friday.