Both citing a “lack of transparency,” the heads of the League of Women Voters of Florida and the First Amendment Foundation are calling for Gov. Rick Scott to veto the just-passed state budget for 2017-18.
But with the House of Representatives passing the budget 98-14 and the Senate approving 34-4 on Monday, there are enough votes there to override a veto, assuming none change.
League President Pamela S. Goodman and FAF President Barbara A. Petersen alerted their members in separate emails on Tuesday.
“The lack of transparency in the process enabled last-minute bills and amendments to be passed,” Goodman wrote in an attached letter to Scott, seeking the budget veto. “Many legislators are on record stating they did not have the opportunity to read and fully comprehend bills presented at the end after emerging from behind closed doors.
“It is the job of every elected official representing their constituents to be able to vote in an informed manner and with complete transparency of the process,” she added.
Goodman also criticized education funding that “starve(s) public schools and expand(s) privately run charter schools” and complained that Florida Forever, the state’s conservation land acquisition program, “was zeroed out in the budget.”
In her email, Petersen wrote that 17 new exemptions to the state’s open government laws were created this Legislative Session.
“Equally alarming is the secretiveness of the budget process this session and FAF will be asking the governor to veto the budget based solely on the lack of transparency,” she said.
Petersen added that her letter to Scott would be sent later this week.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran has rejected claims of secrecy over budget negotiations, even though much was handled behind closed doors, instead calling the Legislature’s work “bold” and “transformative.”