When the largest state budget in Florida history crosses Gov. Rick Scott’s desk, he is expected to use his line-item veto power, as he has in past years, to trim spending by up to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Scott’s pen is the final hurdle for hundreds of local projects sponsored by lawmakers for constituents back home — but it is a high hurdle to vault. The governor has slashed more money from the budget — about $2.3 billion in line-item spending, not counting last year’s school budget — than any other Florida chief executive, calling much of that spending unnecessary or wasteful.
Many of those local projects are standard municipal fare, including money for water and sewer projects, housing, transit, emergencies, and local cultural and educational projects. They are also a fraction of the projects proposed by legislators every year during session — others never even make it into the state budget, blocked by legislative leaders who have final negotiating power on its contents before it is sent to the governor.
That was especially true this year because of the additional money needed for a variety of last-minute expenses, not least of which was the state’s $400 million response to the Parkland shooting. The projects that made it in this year, in large part, were those sponsored by lawmakers who supported the narrowly passed Parkland bill in the final days of session.
“It could have been a lot worse as to the budget,” said Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, who headed the Miami-Dade delegation. “I think everyone [in the delegation] had a good showing.”
Among this year’s projects for South Florida: $2.1 million for senior housing in Hialeah, more than $8 million for the free-to-attend SEED School of Miami for low-income students and a spate of water and drainage projects from Miami Lakes to North Miami. Smaller projects made it in too: $45,000 for fixing HVAC units at WPBT-TV in Miami and even $150,000 for a cattle call — the Miami International Agricultural, Horse and Cattle Show — though the latter was vetoed last year.
Monroe County, in particular, landed several local projects aimed at further recovery, from the damage Hurricane Irma wrought last fall. Legislators agreed to nearly $6 million for its new emergency operations center, $15 million in affordable housing and $5 million for sewage and water projects across the Keys.
“I got a very fair amount considering our state’s priorities and the priorities of [my district],” said Rep. Holly Raschein, who represents the Keys. “Given a perfect world, we’d be in a different situation right now, but that’s not what we’re dealing with.”
Raschein said she had requested $15 million for the emergency center, though it was knocked down to $5.9 million in the final state budget. “There are other sources of funding we can complete that with,” she said.
Just because they’ve made it into this year’s budget isn’t a guarantee — though funding for Irma-related expenses, a stated priority of Scott’s, is likelier to escape a veto. Projects in this year’s package have been included in past budgets and rejected.
Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, whose district includes economically distressed neighborhoods in South Broward County, got $650,000 in the budget for 42 pedestrian street lights on the east side of U.S. 441/State Road 7, as requested for the last two years.
Jones said the state Department of Transportation put in lights on the west side, which borders Miramar, but not on the east side in his hometown of West Park.
“How can you put lights on one side of the street and not the other?” Jones asked. “There’s no equity in how dollars are given.”
Jones said the project, which benefits a predominantly African-American community, has been vetoed repeatedly, but he’ll keep asking for it.
These tables include a selection of programs or projects receiving funding in the 2018-19 state budget.
City or agency
HVAC repairs at WPBT-TV, Miami
Lighthouse for the Blind
Biscayne Park infrastructure
SEED School of Miami
$333,499, plus $66,501 in recurring base appropriations
Agape Village community health and residential treatment facility
Community Smiles, partnering with the Miami Children’s pediatric dental residency program
Miami Children’s Hospital
State Road 826/N.E. 163rd Street Improvements
North Miami Beach
Multi-modal transit station
Opa-locka Airport service center
Master force main installation
North Miami Beach
Arch Creek north/south drainage improvements
West drainage improvements Phase 3
Royal Oaks drainage improvements
North Beach business incubator
96th Street drainage improvements
Activities & nutrition center
Senior Center - Jewish Community
Services of South Florida
Canal bank stabilization Year 7
Cuban-American Bar Association
Fire station at Cartagena Park
Emergency operations center
Village infrastructure improvements
NE 183rd Street seawall restoration
Alonzo Mourning Family Foundation
Homebound meals for at-risk elderly
Miami Military Museum and Memorial Education Center
Miami Beach coastal flooding hazard research project
Fire-Rescue Department mobile command vehicle
Casa Familia housing for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Design district infrastructure improvements
Improvements to city-owned elderly housing buildings
International Agriculture, Horse and Cattle Show for promotional activities
Voices for Children Foundation
Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
Florida Stroke Registry
UM Miller School of Medicine
Citrus Health Network
Institute for Child and Family Health
Adults with Disabilities Program
Jackson Memorial Hospital for the South Florida AIDS Network
Jewish Community Center
St. Ann’s Nursing Center
City or agency
Emergency Operations Center
Fire Station No. 58 Replacement
Sewer piping rehabilitation project
Memorial Healthcare all hazards response & recovery
Natalie’s Cove at Flamingo Gardens
Pompano Beach Blount Road streetscape improvements
Green Meadows drainage project
Emergency lift station
Commercial Boulevard gateway improvements
Urban League Regional Entrepreneurship Center
African-American Memorial Park
West Park pedestrian lights on 441/SR 7
Austin Hepburn Senior Mini Center
South Florida Holocaust Museum permanent exhibition
Lippman Senior Center
City or agency
Association for ReMARcable Citizens
Mobile vessel pumpout program funding
Sewage and water projects
Islamorada, Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District, Marathon, Monroe County/Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, Key West, and Key Colony Beach
Emergency Operations & Public Safety Center
Building moderate income housing
Keys Area Health Education Center
Florida Keys Community College — Key West Collegiate Academy classroom & storm shelter
Florida Keys Community College Hurricane Gap Funding
Temporary modular hospital at Fishermen’s Community Hospital