Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday signed into law Florida’s revised fiscal 2009 budget, which was passed during a special legislative session earlier this month after he exercised his line-item veto power to restore $91 million in general revenue funding.
Crist’s actions restored a number of items cut by the Legislature, including funding for the Florida Forever bond program. He said he took the actions to preserve the state’s investment in public safety, K-12 classrooms and teachers, critical services to vulnerable children, elders, and persons with disabilities, as well as land conservation efforts, economic development, and the Florida National Guard.
“I appreciate the difficult work of the Legislature to reduce the current year’s budget during these historically challenging economic times,” Crist said in a statement. “However, I believe we can tighten our belts while still maintaining our investment in priority areas. In this way, we can ensure the safety and security of our people and visitors to our state.”
The Legislature was called into special session because fiscal 2009 general fund revenues were anticipated to be $2.3 billion less than previously expected. Lawmakers recommended $2.6 billion in cuts in the bills sent to Crist.
“Vetoing … specific appropriations will not cause an imbalance in the general revenue fund in the current year,” Crist said in his veto letter.
Restoring funds for the state’s premiere land conservation bond program was hailed by the Florida Forever Coalition, whose steering committee is composed of seven of the state’s top environmental organizations.
So far, the state Division of Bond Finance has tapped approximately $50 million of Florida Forever’s bond authorization for this year.