Miami-Dade County

Gov. Scott vetoes $409 million in local projects statewide

Workers remove a grapefruit tree from a home in Southwest Miami-Dade in October 2000. Gov. Rick Scott vetoed money that would have compensated homeowners in Broward and Lee counties who lost trees to the citrus canker eradication program.
Workers remove a grapefruit tree from a home in Southwest Miami-Dade in October 2000. Gov. Rick Scott vetoed money that would have compensated homeowners in Broward and Lee counties who lost trees to the citrus canker eradication program. Miami Herald file photo

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday slashed the entire $11 billion public school budget and eliminated $409 million in local projects from the Legislature’s $83 billion spending plan, setting the stage for a special session next week to increase funding to schools.

The projects vetoed from the proposed state budget are big as well as small.

Scott axed more than $37 million that lawmakers set aside to pay homeowners in Broward and Lee counties for their lost citrus trees, money owed to homeowners as part of a settlement. He also rejected $100,000 for a statewide study about the cost-of-living disparities in Florida school districts sought by Miami-Dade Schools.

The cuts to the budget were announced late Friday, more than eight hours after Scott convened a press conference at Miami International Airport with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron to announce a negotiated compromise resolving their differences in the bitter feud over the governor’s economic development programs.

University budgets and construction projects were hit hard. Scott slashed $24 million from the $60 million lawmakers had allocated to Florida International University, leaving money for a new engineering building but rejecting $15 million for the School of International and Public Affairs.

Read more: Here’s the entire list of vetoes

The vetoed money will be used to pay for the additional school funding as well as to restore $75 million to the state’s marketing agency, Visit Florida, and $85 million for a new local grant program within the Department of Economic Opportunity — all Scott priorities.

Corcoran, who had targeted the governor’s economic development initiatives for deep cuts, accepted the trade-off.

“I think what’s more important than projects, as important as they are to our county, is statewide programs that make a difference to the entire state,” he said. “And so if the governor’s thinking is funding K-12 education at $200 million more is worth more than projects, I agree.”

Democrats, however, were critical.

“He came to town today to tell us about his deal that would wipe out this & many $ millions for Miami Dade to get his $85 million #slushfund,” wrote Rep. Nick Duran, D-Miami, on Twitter.

Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, who sponsored the citrus canker legislation, said he was disappointed Scott rejected the payments. “There are over 100,000 families that are owed that money, and I am going continue to fight for them to be made whole,” he said.

The $409 million in local projects exceeds the $319 million in annual vetoes the governor averaged during his first six years in office. Absent the school budget, Scott’s vetoes add up to $2.3 billion. A two-term Republican, his vetoes amount to, on average, 0.45 percent of the annual budget — less than former Gov. Jeb Bush’s average of 0.46 percent.

Scott kept legislative leaders in the dark about his budget cuts until he published his veto message.

In addition to vetoing the local projects and public school budget, the governor also rejected an attempt by lawmakers to sweep $94 million in proceeds from trust funds into the general revenue account. The move preserves the $72 million State Economic Enhancement and Development (SEED) Trust Fund, as well as three law enforcement-related trust funds.

Among the projects left in the budget are $104 million for remodeling classrooms at Miami Dade College, $1.8 million for city of Hialeah Educational Academy; and $400,000 for the University of Miami Institute for Cuban American Studies program.

The governor also kept $230,000 for the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, $1.5 million for Lauren’s Kids, $500,000 for the Mourning Family Foundation, $700,000 for the Miami Police Departments Advance Crime Reporting and Analytics App, $3.2 million for the Urban League of Broward County, $1.5 million for the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project, and $1.1 million for the Miami Stormwater Master Plan.

This story has been updated to reflect that $5 million to renovate the gymnasium at Miami Dade College’s North Campus was vetoed.

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@MiamiHerald.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaryEllenKlas

Staff writers Kristen M. Clark and Michael Auslen contributed to this report.

Miami-Dade and Broward projects vetoed:

$21 million Citrus Canker Eradication Final Judgment — Broward County

$15 million Florida International University — School of International & Public Affairs

$5 million Florida International University — UP:LIFT (University Paradigm: Learn, Interact, Facilitate)

$1 million Florida International University — Center for Ethics & Professionalism

$500,000 Florida International University — Center for Democracy

$300,000 Florida International University — Washington Center for Internships

$250,000 Florida International University — Center for Leadership

$5 million Miami Dade College — Rem/Ren Fac 14 (Gym) for Justice Center — North

$2 million Nova Southeastern University for Osteopathic Medicine Optometry and nursing programs

$1 million North Miami Foundation for Senior Citizens Services

$1 million 87th Avenue ramp to Miami-Dade Expressway (MDX) 924

$1 million for Opa-locka Airport/Roadway Infrastructure Improvements

$1 million Grants And Aids Fixed Capital Outlay — Zoo Miami

$600,000 Wilton Manors Sidewalk Connectivity

$500,000 Breakthrough Miami

$500,000 Pembroke Park John P. Lyons Lane Stormwater Pumping Station

$500,000 Miami Springs Erosion Control and Stabilization of Drainage Canal Phase II

$500,000 Miami Downtown Development Authority — Baywalk

$500,000 Pinecrest Waterline Extension Project

$400,000 Aventura-NE 191st Street Stormwater Retrofits

$375,000 Southwest Ranches Safety Guardrail

$300,000 for Southwest Ranches Regional Emergency Operations and Distribution Center

$200,000 Southwest Ranches Street Lighting Project

$300,000 Lauderdale Lakes Crime Prevention Equipment

$264,000 for the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Zone Emergency Response Operations Center

$250,000 Sunny Isles Beach Complete Streets Project

$250,000 Lauderdale Lakes Stormwater Conveyance and Water Quality Improvement

$229,140 Florida City Krome Avenue Water Line

$220,000 Davie Road Downtown Improvements

$218,181 Pembroke Pines Senior Transportation Program

$200,000 Miami Beach Community Health Center

$200,000 Lauderdale Lakes Comprehensive Sidewalk Improvement Project

$150,000 Coconut Creek Wastewater Conveyance System Improvement

$150,000 Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Centers (LHANC) Home Health Care Program

$124,000 Surfside Biscaya Island Water Main Crossing

$100,000 Citizens’ Crime Watch Board of Miami-Dade County

$98,850 Miami International Agriculture, Horse and Cattle Show

$50,000 Bal Harbour Village — Utility Master Plan

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