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TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 5/8/17-Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, quizzes Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, about funding for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida executives during what is expected to be the final day of the extended 2017 legislative session Monday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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Senate votes to override veto of public education budget as ‘insurance’

The Senate voted Tuesday to override Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of the public schools budget, plus a number of higher education building projects.

The first override was an “insurance policy” intended to keep the schools open after July 1 if this week’s special session of the Legislature breaks down.

“This is an insurance policy. We just don’t want to get to a situation where we end up without having our (education) finance program funded,” Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala said.

“You know as well as I do that we’re in contentious times here. We’re faced with very aggressive House of Representatives in advocating their position on issues,” he said.

“You never know what that’s going to produce. I don’t want to be responsible, as our Appropriations Chairman, and our president doesn’t want to be responsible, for getting into a situation where we leave town and we do not have our school funding in place.”

The measure passed with three dissenting votes — well within the necessary supermajority. The senators subsequently approved a raft of additional veto overrides involving public education.

And when the Senate reconvened Tuesday evening following committee hearings, it approved a series of overrides of higher education capital project vetoes worth about $75 million — reflecting Senate President Joe Negron‘s ambitions for the university system.

“We feel strongly that universities are an important component of economic development, of attracting people to Florida,” Negron said.

Latvala noted that some of the items had been in the budget for years and subjected to vetoes this year for the first time. They included projects at Miami Dade College, Florida State University, the University of Florida, Florida International University, and Florida Gateway College.

The new state budget takes effect on July 1.

The plan remained to take up separate legislation that would funnel $215 million into the education budget on top of the $404.6 million in the state budget approved during an extended session last month,” Latvala said

Sen. Tom Lee asked whether Latvala had briefed the governor on the plan, including the override.

“I’m sure they are watching on TV,” Latvala replied.

Written By

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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