Chiles Cuts Budget by $35.8 Million

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Lawton Chiles signed the state's $42.4

billion budget yesterday after vetoing $35.8 million in projects

that he found flawed.

Most of Jacksonville's projects emerged unscathed, but Chiles

struck down $6.25 million for a residential academy for at-risk

children and $10 million for port transportation needs, some of

which would have gone to Jacksonville.

The 1997-98 budget, with no new taxes, is 6 percent more than

this year's and channels nearly $700 million in additional money

into education.

It does not, however, solve a school overcrowding problem that

Chiles and legislative leaders have promised to address in

meetings over the summer.

It does contain $75 million that lawmakers earmarked for

college scholarships paid for with lottery proceeds in an effort

to blunt criticism that the money from the lottery was not

enhancing education.

There is more money for several of the governor's children's

programs, including enough to provide health insurance for an

additional 60,000 children under the Healthy Kids initiative.

"On the whole, it represents a well-balanced approach to the

challenges facing our state," Chiles said in the message

accompanying the veto list.

But he said in addition to failing to deal with the school

construction crisis, it does not provide for maintenance and

repair of juvenile detention facilities, complete the statewide

law enforcement radio system, increase spending for need-based

college scholarships or spend enough on social services.

"Such omissions are troubling, but not consuming," Chiles

wrote. "This budget deserves my support."

While there are no tax increases, undergraduates at state

universities will pay 7.8 percent more in tuition and graduate

and out-of-state students will have a 12.8 percent increase.

Community college tuition will rise 8.65 percent.

With Jacksonville benefiting from the leadership positions

assumed by Republican members of its legislative delegation

under GOP control of the Legislature, the city fared well in

projects, several of which were considered unwarranted by

Florida TaxWatch, a private watchdog organization.

Sen. Betty Holzendorf, Jacksonville Democrat and Duval

delegation chairwoman, said she had been "begging and pleading"

with Chiles' office to leave Jacksonville's appropriations

alone. …