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
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
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