Scott Vetoes $30 Million From State Budget for Panhandle Projects

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Florida Governor Rick Scott is vetoing nearly $400 million from the state's new budget, including $30 million earmarked for projects in the News Channel 7 viewing area.

Scott on Monday signed the $74.1 billion budget into law but he also axed a whole line of project sprinkled in the budget including millions for college buildings, health care programs and even money for supplemental programs for veterans.

The biggest of the cuts, $14 million for a new STEM building at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City.

Other Panhandle projects vetoed by Scott:
Bay County
Bay County Health Department – BayCare - $610,000

Jackson County
Fixed Capital Outlay - Old Jackson County (Marianna) High School - $6 million

Walton County
Walton County - Coastal Dune Lakes Environmental Assessment - $500,000
Walton County - Wastewater Treatment Facility at Mossy Head - $3 million
Walton County - US Highway 98 Water Line Extension - $1 million
Mossy Head Industrial Park Infrastructure (Walton County) - $1.8 million

Okaloosa County
Okaloosa County Health Department Mobile Medical Units - $1.7 Million
Okaloosa County Health Department - Fort Walton Beach and Crestview Renovations - $500,000
Okaloosa Walton Homeless Continuum of Care/ Opportunity Inc.- $500,000
Okaloosa County Library - $85,635

Washington County
Chipley - Drinking Water System Improvements - $400,000

Liberty County
Liberty County Sheriff Administrative Building - $100,000

Calhoun County
Blountstown - Replacement Of Water Main Along SR 20 - $472,000
Calhoun County Historic Courthouse Renovation and Repairs - $649,000

Gulf County
Port St. Joe Port Authority Bank Loans - $2 million

Scott also vetoed a 3% tuition hike for college and university students and $50 million for a multi-use trail that would cross the state.

Gulf Coast State College's five year project to create a new STEM Education Center won't be taking any steps forward this year. But college President Dr. Jim Kerley says he's been preparing himself for this news.

He says, "Somebody told me a 50/50 chance a couple days ago. By Friday it was probably a 20 percent chance." Just two years after Governor Scott touted the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math programs, his signature stopped Gulf Coast's plan in its tracks.

Governor Scott explained his decision by saying, "You know I went through, I went through all those programs and I like STEM projects because I know there are jobs in that area. But look, we've got to go through a logical process of you know, of going through the Board of Governors or going through the Board of Education." But Dr. Kerley says this year's veto won't keep them from trying again.

The Republican governor still praised the overall budget, by noting it boosts spending on education.

This year marked the first time in years that legislators had a budget surplus to work with.


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