Citing Unmet Needs, Fla. Governor Vetoes Budget

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Governor Lawton Chiles of Florida last week vetoed the state budget for fiscal year 1993 passed by the legislature, saying it lacked adequate funding for education and other state services.

"On all accounts this budget neglects critical needs and fails to stem the factors that are driving up the increases in state funding,'' the Governor said in his veto message. "If this budget were to become law, we would be charting a course for Florida's decline--by overcrowding classrooms, eliminating or reducing health-care access to over 100,000 Floridians, turning more criminals out onto our streets, and endangering environmentally sensitive lands.''

The $29.1-billion budget passed by the legislature fell $1.3 billion short of the budget that Mr. Chiles proposed in January.

The Governor had called for a $600-million increase in education spending. To pay for it and spending hikes for other services, he sought a record $1.35-billion tax increase. (See Education Week, Jan. 29, 1992.)

Lawmakers balked at an expansion of the sales-tax base, prompting them to present the Governor with a more modest budget.

"It has proven to be very difficult for lawmakers to accept a tax during this recession,'' said Gayle Andrews, the spokesman for Senate President Gwen Margolis.

Special Sessions Planned

The legislature will convene a special session this week to negotiate a redistricting plan; another special session is planned for May 18 to June 12 to work on the budget and tax reform.

In his veto message, Governor Chiles enumerated some of the programs that would have had to be cut under the legislature's budget.

According to the administration, public-school enrollment is growing by more than 100,000 annually, compared with fewer than 5,000 new students per year a decade ago.

According to Mr. Chiles, the legislature's spending plan "not only fails to fund this growth, but it ignores key investments in school-breakfast, prekindergarten, and child-care programs, which prepare a child for the classroom, and it actually reduces financial assistance to over 63,000 college and university students.''

The Governor further noted that the legislature's budget would have cut health programs designed to combat teenage pregnancy, low birthweights, and learning disabilities.

Vol. 11, Issue 27, Page 25

Published in Print: March 25, 1992, as Citing Unmet Needs, Fla. Governor Vetoes Budget
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