Scott nixes one budget item for Gadsden

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By Robert Allen

Florida Gov. Rick Scott released the 2014 budget early this month, along with a list of vetoed line items. This year, Scott has dubbed the spending plan the “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget.”

“The tax cuts in this Budget will also help Florida maintain positive economic momentum as our state’s economy continues to add jobs and opportunities for families,” wrote Gov. Scott in an open letter provided by his press office. “Florida’s unemployment rate is down 6.2 percent and has remained below the national average for nine consecutive months. In a little over three years, Florida’s private sector has created more than 600,400 jobs.”

While speaking at the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier in the month, Florida State Sen. Bill Montfort said he hoped Scott would concentrate his vetoes on line items involving expenses specifically for communities in central and south Florida — anywhere south of Gainesville. 

According to a list of Scott’s budget vetoes provided by the governor’s press office, the only nixed line item pertaining specifically to Gadsden County was $110,000 marked for the Senior Energy Efficiency Program — Gadsden County. This appropriation was one of the budgetary items pursued by Bill Montford, senator for Florida’s third district. 

Little information about the program appears to be readily available. Despite this line item’s label, the program is not a county government project. The county referred questions to city of Quincy and the city of Quincy directed a reporter to the Quincy Community Redevelopment Agency. 

In a Times interview with CRA Director Regina Davis, she said the program was an idea she developed in an attempt to help local seniors. The plan involved sending city employees to make minor improvements in homes of senior citizens, aiming to lower these elderly residents’ cost of living by increasing the efficiency of their household utilities. 

The program, according to Davis, has never received state funding in the past. 

The new budget also directly affected a few of Gadsden County’s neighbor when the governor vetoed line items specifically appropriated funds or projects in those counties. A $1.5 million dredging expense was vetoed for Wakulla County, along with a $525,000 paddling trail project in the same county. 

Similarly, neither Jefferson nor Calhoun counties will receive the $200,000 state tax dollars legislators had marked for projects on the two counties’ courthouses. 

The most costly budget item vetoed by Scott was the proposal for a $3.25 million addition to Stetson University’s science facility at the small private institution’s main campus in Deland — a Volusia County town south of Montford’s desired line of north/south demarcation.