Florida Governor Scott wraps up his first session as governor

Jun 28, 2011

The following article was published in The Florida Tribune on June 28, 2011:

Scott wraps up his first session as governor

Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday wrapped up his first session as governor when he signed the last bill left on his desk.

Scott approved SB 404, which deals with transition to adulthood services for teenagers primarily under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

But the measure was amended in the waning moments of the session to include a plan to create a new state-run boarding school for at-risk youth. Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, tried unsuccessfully to kill the boarding school but the Republican-controlled Legislature passed the bill anyway.

Scott in a letter accompanying the bill said he remained concerned about the potential cost for the school, which would be created by a vendor selected by the State Board of Education and is supposed to be up and running by the fall of 2012.

But the governor said he would let the school to go forward if it could be shown that services provided to the students chosen for the school is less than they would be eligible to receive from a handful of state agencies, including the Department of Education.

Lawmakers had one of the most substantial sessions in the last decade as they passed an overhaul of the state’s $22 billion Medicaid program, made changes to the pension system, eliminated tenure for new teachers, scaled back state oversight of growth management, and slashed spending in order to balance the state budget.

Scott had rocky relations with Republicans at the start of the session, especially after he killed the $2.4 billion high speed rail line.

But in the end Scott only vetoed 10 bills sent to him by fellow Republicans. His one decision that appeared to chafe legislators the most was when he declared at the budget signing that he was vetoing more than $600 million in special interest waste and he wanted the money spent on education.

House Speaker Dean Cannon and other top Republicans in the House quickly pushed back and noted that Scott himself had proposed a bigger cut for public schools than what was included in the final budget.