Florida Governor Rick Scott Tuesday unveiled his last budget proposal as the state’s chief executive in Jacksonville.
Scott said it represents a historic investment across the board.
Scott, who’s still playing coy about whether he’s running for Democrat Bill Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat, unveiled his budget proposal at Northern Tool and Equipment on Atlantic Boulevard Tuesday morning.
Scott said he chose to highlight the hardware store because of its work preparing people for Hurricane Irma and the business stands to gain from a tax cut package he’s proposing.
The two-term governor is asking for significant spending boosts across sectors, specifically in education and the environment — a move cynics say is aimed at a 2018 campaign.
But Scott said his ask is an earnest fulfillment of 2010 campaign promises.
“In the last seven years we’ve cut taxes 75 times — $7.5 billion. We’ve reduced $9 billion worth of debt. I don't think debt had been reduced any year for the 20 prior years before I became governor,” he said. “We’ve made government more efficient and if you remember my campaign promise in 2010 — seven steps to 700,000 jobs — we’ve added over 1.3 million jobs so far in this state.”
Scott wants the state to spend just more than $87 billion next year, around $4 billion more than last year’s request. His budget includes $53 million for opioid treatment programs and law enforcement related to the addiction epidemic.
He’s also calling for an extra $220 million in environmental funding and a more than $670 million increase for the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration — mostly due to Medicaid increases.
Scott wants a significantly smaller package of tax and fee cuts — $180 million. He requested close to $400 million more than that last year. He also wants more funding for dredging the St. Johns River.
Lawmakers have the final say on how much of Scott’s priorities are passed and after the hurricane, the legislature is working with less wiggle room than last year.