The strategy seemed to be working. As of Tuesday, many of the Miami-Dade projects had found their way into the budgets negotiated by House and Senate leaders, such as $500,000 of the $750,000 requested for the new military museum.
Rep. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, helped lobby for it, and said, The Military Museum of South Florida is a great facility for our community to honor those who sacrificed for our great nation, and to teach our children the history and value of service.
The $900,000 for the Bay of Pigs Museum, which would be used to move it from a house in Little Havana to a new facility in Hialeah Gardens, was also included.
The veterans have been trying to figure out a way to preserve the history, said Rep. José Javier Rodriguez, the Miami Democrat spearheading the effort to secure funding. There is some urgency to get it done. The veterans wont be around much longer.
Of course, the budget isnt done yet. The budget was bumped Tuesday night to appropriation chairmen McKeel, R-Lakeland, and Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. Later, Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz will have last crack at it before its due in final form on Tuesday. If the projects survive by the time the budget is voted on May 3, Gov. Rick Scott still could veto them.
In his first year in office in 2011, the tea party backlash against government spending was on the upswing when Scott vetoed $615 million in member projects. As he signed the budget at the Villages that year, he called out those members who tried to get funding directed to their hometowns as Tallahassee insiders.
Last year, Scott vetoed $143 million in various projects, including $500,000 for the Bay of Pigs historical museum in Miami on the invasions 51st anniversary.
This year, Scotts political calculations hinge on two of his top priorities: $2,500 automatic pay raises for teachers and $278 million to attract and keep businesses to bolster his bona fides as a jobs governor. As of Tuesday, lawmakers wanted to tie the raises to performance and include non-instructional personnel, and pay between $70 million and $81 million.
At this point, the threat of veto is Scotts best friend. Like a good card player, Scotts not showing his hand. When asked what projects he intended to veto this year, his office released a short statement that could chill the blood of any lawmaker protecting a turkey.
The Governor has priorities, his office said in a statement Monday. The Legislature has priorities. Theres still enough time left to determine how successful this session will be for all of us.