Gov. Rick Scott on Monday vetoed almost $368 million in state spending before signing the budget for next year, including $1 million for a violence prevention and mental health initiative sought by the Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.
Bradshaw’s program would have established a hotline for residents to call when they suspected an individual might be planning a violent act.
If a call were deemed cause for concern, that person might be visited by deputies trained to deal with mental health issues.
In interviews, he cited such incidents as the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and a movie theater in Auroroa, Colo., as instances where a watchful eye and trained help might have prevented tragedy.
But the proposal drew fire from conservatives when a widespread quote from a Palm Beach Post story fueled fears of government taking action against people because of how they think, not how they’ve acted.
“We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he’s gonna shoot him,” Bradshaw said in the article.
“What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’”
Scott also turned down a 3 percent tuition increase for state college and university students.
Other vetoed Palm Beach County spending included $225,000 for Lake Worth Lagoon monitoring and restoration programs.
However, $1 million for resurfacing in Belle Glade survived the governor’s vote pen, as well as $100,000 for the Place of Hope at the Haven Campus in Boca Raton.
TaxWatch had recommended vetoes for both projects.
Still, Scott’s actions generally pleased the watchdog group Florida TaxWatch, which had recommended he veto $107 million in projects.
About two-thirds of the items TaxWatch recommended for the veto pen were on Scott’s list.
“He seemed to take a pretty firm stand against things that benefitted local areas,” said Kurt Wenner, TaxWatch vice president for tax research.
TaxWatch had recommended a veto for $450,000 of the money Bradshaw wanted from the state
Scott’s veto message for that $450,000, and a separate $550,000, made it clear that he considers such efforts a matter for local governments.
The message described the proposed program as “very well designed,” but said it lacked “clear performance standards.”
Other Palm Beach County vetoes included a $6.5 million building for Palm Beach County State College and $100,000 for a nicotine addiction program at Scripps Research Institute.
The veto message said such efforts are already covered by the State Tobacco and Education Program.
Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker generally praised Scott’s decisions, releasing written statements that said while were disappointed with some of the vetoes, that was just part of the budgeting process.
“While we did not agree on every line item, he signed 95 percent of our budget, which is a resounding endorsement of the House and Senate work product,” Weatheford’s statement said.
“The next budget and policy cycle begins at sunrise tomorrow and we in the Senate look forward to our role as partners with the House of Representatives and the governor,” Gaetz’s statement said.
Democrats, however, were not happy, suggesting Scott’s vetoes could be used against him in the 2014 governor’s race.
“… The governor managed to find a questionable justification to veto many of the priorities unanimously supported in the budget we passed,” Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith said in a statement.
“Given the precarious state of our economic recovery, I suspect it is a move he will regret.”