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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014
Politics

Tampa mostly unscathed as Scott vetoes $68.9 million statewide


Published:   |   Updated: June 2, 2014 at 07:02 PM

“He clearly failed to see the value of this community initiative ... and its rich potential to get Floridians back to work – the hallmark of the governor’s platform,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said in an email. “Unfortunately, election-year politics appears to have trumped the needs of the people today.”

Scott also OK’d $15.5 million toward completion of the Coast to Coast Connector, a 275-mile bike and pedestrian trail across Florida, $194 million for the Tampa International Airport expansion and $10 million for Pasco Hernando State College’s new performing arts center.

Hernando County will get $3 million from the state to help build an educational-tourism center. The County will match that $3 million, propelling the “Nature Coast Experience” – the working name for the proposed center – closer to reality.

Hernando commissioners at their last meeting supported plans to locate the facility in the 11,200-acre Weekiwachee Preserve, on Osowaw Boulevard and west of U.S. 19. County Administrator Len Sossamon has said such a center will attract tourists and boost the local economy.

This year marked the first time Scott signed off on the budget without a public ceremony. The new budget is more than 3 percent bigger than last year’s.

Lawmakers wrote a number of local projects and programs into the plan after coming into the yearly legislative session with a surplus of roughly $1.2 billion.

Scott had previously OK’d tax and fee cuts totalling $500 million, including the current sales tax holiday on hurricane-preparedness products and a rollback of auto registration fees.

The budget covers the next fiscal year, July 1-June 30.

In one offbeat line item, Scott vetoed more than $400,000 for “lionfish bounty payments.”

Lionfish are an invasive species from the Indian and Pacific oceans that compete with species native to Florida Florida waters such as grouper, lobster and snapper. Current eradication efforts include a yearly lionfish derby in Key Largo.

Reporters Chris O’Donnell and Laura Kinsler and editor Julio Ochoa contributed to this report.

jrosica@tampatrib.com

(850) 765-0807

Twitter: @jlrosicaTBO

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