With the exact details of the state budget still under wraps, Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that he would consider vetoing the entire thing if legislators don’t include “full funding” to Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, while also funding a repair of Lake Okeechobee’s dike.
“I have the right to veto the entire budget,” he said during a press conference in Sunrise, part of a three-day trip that will take him across the state over the next two days. “I’ll look at all my options.”
Ahead of next week’s vote in Tallahassee — which will determine how the budget’s $83 billion dollars are spent — Scott made a final push for his budget priorities during a statewide trip that included a stop at the Rick Case Kia dealership on Wednesday and will continue through Friday.
He was flanked at the dealership by smiling Kia employees, many of whom beamed when he arrived and offered handshakes, along with the CEO of Visit Florida, Ken Lawson, and the executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Cissy Proctor.
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Scott called out the names of 15 state legislators who have disagreed with his proposals, including four who represent districts in Miami-Dade County. The names were scrawled on an index card.
Among the legislators, both Republican and Democrat, were Manny Diaz, a Republican representing House District 103; Carlos Trujillo, a Republican representing House District 105; Jose Feliz Diaz, a Republican representing House District 116; and David Richardson, a Democrat representing House District 113.
“Here’s who you need to call,” Scott said.
The governor said he would be confused if legislators don’t fund his proposals, focusing specifically on his goal to funnel millions of additional dollars into Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, which he argued will help grow Florida’s economy.
“Everybody needs to call their House and Senate members; it’s surprising to me that they don’t understand right now the value of marketing our state,” he said. “We’ve got to keep marketing our state to get more tourists.”
If Scott were in fact to veto the budget, legislators would be forced into special session to pass a budget before June 30, the end of the current budget year.
On Wednesday morning, after failing to agree on a final budget by their midnight deadline, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron told members that they’d reached a compromise — behind closed doors — and that a vote would be held Monday.
Because the budget discussions were private, Scott said he doesn’t know what it entails, but he said it would not be complete until Friday.
“I don’t actually know what’s in the budget,” he said. “It’s all secret.”
Scott also touched on the environment, specifically the “guacamole-green algae” blooms that appeared in South Florida waters last summer. Scott wants to invest $200 million into the speedy repair of the lake’s dike to prevent discharges that could lead to similar blooms.
These demands were largely ignored late last month in a state budget framework that included a $50 million cut in tourism marketing and no new funding for the state’s job incentive program or the dike fix.
Asked if he regretted visiting Argentina for a trade mission last month instead of working with legislators on the unresolved aspects of the state budget, Scott said the trip was an opportunity to attract business to the state he couldn’t pass up.
“Oh, gosh. The Argentina trip was outstanding,” he said.
On Wednesday, Scott declared a state of emergency in Florida, citing the state’s opioid epidemic. The declaration came two months after Democrats in the Legislature pleaded for it.
Scott addressed the delay by saying he needed more input from round-table discussions across the state before the announcement, adding that President Donald Trump’s administration has recently allocated money to the drug crisis.
“You put all those things together, and it was the right time to do it,” he said.
With his term ending next year — in 615 days by his math — Scott has not ruled out a U.S. Senate run against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. Nor has he thrown his support behind any gubernatorial candidates vying for his job.
“My goal is that there will be somebody in the race that really cares about jobs,” he said. “Right now, I’m focused on this job.”