At a town hall in Miami Beach on Wednesday evening, Florida Senator Gwen Margolis and Representative David Richardson lamented lost projects to Governor Rick Scott’s pen.
The two elected officials, both Democrats, named several approved budget items that were vetoed by Scott during the 2015 session in Tallahassee. Margolis went as far to call the session, “fairly dysfunctional.”
“It was a session where fewer pieces of legislation passed than any other session I can ever remember,” said Margolis, who began her legislative career in 1974. “Not much passed so there’s not going to be much change.”
One change, however, that was pushed through by Richardson involved the gay adoption ban being removed from the books.
“I offered an amendment to have it removed from Florida Statue and after a lot of pushing and pulling we got it removed,” said Richardson, Florida’s lone openly gay representative.
The removal though was mostly symbolic in nature since an appeals court had ruled Florida’s gay adoption ban violated the state constitution in 2010.
Around 50 people attended the town hall held at the Miami Beach Golf Club where Margolis and Richardson blasted Scott, a Republican, for vetoing funding to several local projects, including the Holocaust Memorial and Miami Boat Show.
“I’ve done a lot of analysis on the vetoes,” Richardson said. “The big cities were hurt more than the rural areas.”
Richardson, a certified public accountant, said the Governor feels many local projects should not be funded at the state level.
“We play host to people from around the world,” Richardson said. “We are very much a donor community because of tourism. We never get our fair share back, but I want something. This year we got ripped off.”
Instead of funding for programs to help gay homeless teens and Medicaid expansion for low income families, Floridians were given tax exemptions for gun club memberships and yacht repair services.
“Almost everything we had in the budget was cut by the Governor,” Richardson said. “What bothers me are the inconsistencies.”
Richardson said the vetoes occurred at eleventh hour under the cover of darkness.
“They moved money around at night when nobody was watching,” he said. “I’m furious.”
Other issues discussed included a proposal to restrict the use of plastic bags, a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, a law to prevent photographic cyber sexual harassment and a $20 tax reduction on communication services.