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Gov. Scott Signs $70 Billion Budget

Panama City, FL - Governor Rick Scott was back in Bay County Tuesday for a ceremonial budget signing at Margaret K. Lewis School. The governor highlighted a $1 billion increase in education spending contained in the $70 billion budget.

"We are focusing on the core mission that government is supposed to provide and education is part of that core mission" Rep. Marti Coley of Marianna said.

The majority of the increase for K-12 education will go to per student payments to each county and to reading programs. But Gov. Scott vetoed more than $10 million in local projects, including three programs for the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium in Coley's district.

"I'm disappointed that he vetoed that but he used a very methodical approach to what he vetoed and what he did not and so we'll look at that again next year," she said

One of the largest local projects was $5 million for restoring the Port of Port St. Joe's bulkhead.

"I look at the projects. First are they good statewide projects? Are they projects that have gone through our transportation department review? On top of that, we're funding this year 140 million dollars in tourist seaports," Gov. Scott said on his decision to veto the project.

But Rep. Jimmy Patronis of Panama City Beach says he thinks the project can still get approval in the future

"Because of that the governor and his team also have a tremendous amount of sympathy with that particular issue because they took it away so no they'll be agreeable to sit down at the table," he said.

Despite the vetoes, Patronis says he is pleased with the budget.

"Anytime you can pass a budget with no fee increase, no tax increases and make the necessary cuts across the board to increase k-12 education spending by a billion dollars, it's a good day in Florida."

Some of the other area projects vetoed include:

$500 thousand for Billy Joe Rish Park
$250 thousand for The Science and Discovery Center in Panama City
$500 thousand Walton County's West End Bridge repairs
$1.6 million Med student training for two clinics in the panhandle


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