Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Many Smaller Projects Fail to Escape Bush's Veto

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Many Smaller Projects Fail to Escape Bush's Veto

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- In the rural Baker County town of Macclenny, the agriculture center is one of the few places big enough for folks to gather for meetings, banquets and family reunions.

So with the 23-year-old center needing more space and renovations, county officials were hopeful last month when state lawmakers passed a budget that included $100,000 to help fix up the center.

But last week, those hopes were crushed: Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed the money, along with $313 million for other projects across the state.

"I don't know what we'll do now," said Mike Sweat, the Baker County extension director.

The agriculture center is one of many Northeast Florida projects Bush slashed from the budget in his effort to get rid of so-called "turkeys" -- projects that help local areas but do little for the rest of the state.

But while Bush argues the state should spend tax dollars on broader priorities, backers of the local projects say the vetoes remove a crucial source of money. For some groups and agencies, such as Jacksonville's Museum of Science and History, this is the second year in a row Bush has vetoed their projects.

"It's tough," said Margo Dundon, executive director of the museum, which had $1.25 million vetoed this year. "We will find other means. We will continue to work at it. But it just makes it so much more difficult."

Bush said yesterday he made it clear before the legislative session that he would veto projects that did not go through detailed reviews aimed at weeding out wasteful spending.

Although many of the Northeast Florida projects submitted applications to the Legislature and had the backing of lawmakers, Bush said that wasn't good enough.

"They may have submitted the information, but that's not going through a [review] process," he said.

When Bush announced his vetoes, much of the attention focused on major projects, such as a $25 million proposal by Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney to buy environmentally sensitive land on the city's Southside. …

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