Gov. Ron DeSantis used his line-item veto power on Thursday to kill $600,000 for Crandon Boulevard safety improvements, a budget move that comes less than a month after the deaths of two cyclists on the roadway.
The deletion was just one out of dozens of “local” items DeSantis deleted in striking more than $3 billion from the $109.9 billion budget. The governor offered no specific reason for the Crandon veto, but said he looked for cuts because he “didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of Washington by overspending.”
As the governor boasted that he’d set a record with the number and amount of line-item vetos, Republican legislative leaders watched, standing behind him at a signing event. As he gestured to them, the governor said “they may not be happy about that, but that’s just the way it goes.”
“It’s very disappointing,” said Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey. “It would have been helpful.”
Like the other items, the Crandon Blvd project in Key Biscayne had overwhelming bipartisan support. The measure was sponsored by State Sen. Ileana Garcia, a Republican.
Safety on the Rickenbacker Causeway has been a longstanding problem, but came into sharper focus after the deaths of two cyclists May 15. Miami-Dade County reduced speed limits and constructed temporary barriers, and is looking at both short and long-term fixes to the scenic causeway that carries millions of visitors.
The Crandon project’s stated goal was to “improve roadway level of service and provide a significant reduction in traffic fatalities.” It would have been administered by the Village and Miami-Dade County. The total cost was $1.5 million, with the Village set to pay $900,000.
Davey said he was hopeful some way would be found to move forward with the project, despite DeSantis’ veto.
“We’ll make it happen,” he said.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.