Gov. Rick Scott signed an $83 billion budget for 2018 and used his veto pen to slash nearly $22 million earmarked for Pasco County projects.
In total Scott struck out nearly $410 million from local projects across Florida.
Pasco lost about $15 million for a new interchange to connect Overpass Road with Interstate 75, and $4.3 million for the Thomas Varnadoe Forensic Center for Education and Research.
The interchange would be a major link in providing more access to Wesley Chapel and east Pasco, where residential and commercial development is booming.
A groundbreaking and dedication ceremony was held in May for the Adam Kennedy Forensics Field, located in Land O’ Lakes, near the planned forensic center. The body farm and forensic center would become the seventh in the nation to study body decomposition as a tool in solving crimes, and identifying victims of murder or other trauma.
The forensic center is planned jointly with Pasco County, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Pasco-Hernando State College and the University of South Florida’s Institute for Forensics and Applied Science.
Two budget items totaling nearly $1 million to clean out and repair the county’s culverts, and ease the threat of flooding are gone as well.
The Pasco County Fair Association also lost about $860,000 for proposed upgrades to the Pasco County Extension Office. And, Saint Leo University won’t get $4 million for a proposed Florida Hospital Wellness Center.
Scott had a joint press conference on June 2 with Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, a Republican from Land O’ Lakes, and Senate President Joe Negron, a Republican from Stuart. The trio announced a funding deal had been reached following weeks of speculation that Scott might veto the entire budget. Instead, the governor wielded his veto power, and called legislators back for a three-day special session from June 7 through June 9.
The agenda will include increases to annual per pupil spending from kindergarten through 12th grade; creation of an $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund; and, restoring funds to Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.
Scott has said he will not veto a controversial education bill that Corcoran favored. It creates a School of Hope program that would subsidize charter schools in areas where public schools are considered failing.
There currently are no plans to include discussion of how to regulate medical marijuana. Voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana in a 2016 referendum, but legislators have been split on how many dispensaries to allow.
Scott also cut these Pasco projects:
- $750,000 for Pasco Regional STEM School/Tampa Bay Region Aeronautics
- $500,000 for a study of the Clinton Avenue Intersection Re-alignment at U.S. 98 and U.S. 301
- $350,000 for U.S. 301/Re-imagine Gall Boulevard
Published June 6, 2017