Gov. Rick Scott’s veto pen slashed funding for some Miami Beach priorities that include money for storm water pumps, an accessible beach and the Holocaust Memorial.
While cutting a record $461 million from the state’s $78.7 billion budget, Scott axed $750,000 budgeted for the Beach’s storm water drainage plan to safeguard the city from sea-level rise. According to Scott’s veto message, the project “does not provide a clear statewide return for the investment.”
Calling it the “cut heard around the world,” Mayor Philip Levine said on Wednesday that Gov. Rick Scott’s veto underlines his lack of support for coastal cities trying to prepare for rising tides.
He estimated the city’s real estate value at $30 billion and deemed the $750,000 a good investment for protecting a major tourist destination in the state.
“The ocean is not Republican, and it’s not Democratic,” he said. “It’s a nonpartisan ocean, and all ocean is going to do is rise.”
Levine maintained that the cut will not derail the city’s $400 million plan or cause storm water rates to increase again. The city commission raised fees this year to start paying for infrastructure projects like installing pumps and raising roads in the Beach’s low-lying areas.
“I’d like the governor and lieutenant governor to come visit Miami Beach during king tide,” he said.
Another cut: $65,000 for the Sabrina Cohen Foundation’s efforts to build an accessible beach and adaptive playground at Allison Park.
On Tuesday, Sabrina Cohen said that while she is disappointed, she is determined to find alternative funding and soldier on with the strong support from the community and the city.
“We’re full-speed ahead,” she said. “It 100 percent doesn’t put a dent in our plans.”
Scott’s veto message said the foundation didn’t get the money because “it is not a statewide priority for improving cost, quality and access in health care.”
The vetoes also included $300,000 slated for the Holocaust Memorial, which would have gone toward recording survivor testimony. Along with money for other projects across the state, it was cut because “it did not go through the established competitive review process where projects of this type are ranked and recommended based on measurable outcomes,” according to Scott’s veto message.
Andrew Hall, chair of the Holocaust Memorial, said he understands cuts are difficult decisions.
“We also know as the chief elected official, he has extremely hard decisions to make,” he said. “I guess it was our turn to be good citizens and take the cut, but we remain awfully grateful to the state of Florida.”
A $100,000 allocation for an improved traffic signal system in Miami Beach also was cut. Levine said the city will have to examine its priorities to implement the system on its own.
“We have to really have our finance team analyze it and come up with some choices on what we can do and not do,” he said.
When asked about specifics regarding why the vetoes were made, Scott’s office directed a reporter to the veto message released Tuesday.