|By Steve Bousquet, The Miami Herald|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"I will not sign a budget that does not significantly increase state funding for education," Scott said at a news conference in the Capitol, a clear veto threat directed at his fellow Republicans in
All of Scott's recommendations require legislative approval. They are a starting point in negotiations with lawmakers and interest groups in an election year in which the state faces a projected budget shortfall of
Scott's emphasis on education is a major shift from his first budget of a year ago in which he called for a 10 percent cut in school spending.
Marking a clear shift in priorities, the governor who ran on a platform of creating jobs now says he's about "education and jobs." The re-booting of Scott's agenda follows a series of town hall meetings around the state in which people resoundingly said they want to see more money spent on schools.
To find more money for schools, Scott is asking
"No program in this state has grown this fast or costs this much," said Scott, pointing to a chart showing next year's projected
Scott, who became wealthy by running
Aides to the governor said they believed most hospitals could still earn healthy profits under the new rate system.
Scott said a highly skilled work force is needed to grow jobs in
House Majority Leader
Democrats sarcastically welcomed Scott's "newfound fervor" for education, but chastised him for not supporting a repeal of tax breaks on businesses, which the minority party says are not paying their fair share.
"Pitting one critical priority against another is not the solution Floridians expect from the leader of the fourth largest state in the nation," said Senate Democratic Leader
Other cost savings in Scott's budget would come from closing up to six prisons and work camps, based on various factors such as operating costs and proximity to other prisons. The
That could pose political obstacles for Scott in a reapportionment year when all 160 legislators face voters next fall. State prisons are a major source of jobs in many small towns in central and north
But with violent crime in
The governor's office is also counting cost savings from privatizing all prison health care statewide and all prisons in an 18-county region of
About 27,000 highly-paid state employees, including legislators, would pay more than
Scott's budget proposes the most modest tax relief package in more than a decade, about
Times/Herald staff writers
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