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Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis used his line-item veto power to reject half a million dollars in projects for Key Biscayne on Wednesday, part of about $1 billion in cuts to the budget adopted by the Florida Legislature.

The projects killed by DeSantis were $212,500 for a multimodal traffic study and safety improvements for Crandon Boulevard, a separate $137,500 allocated for traffic analysis, and $250,000 for emergency management planning and training for the island’s public safety departments. 

Key Biscayne Village Manager Steve Williamson said the cuts will limit some island projects.

“We will lose out on the opportunity to thoroughly review and update our emergency management plans and conduct the immersive training and exercise we were planning for the next hurricane season,”: he said in a text message. He added that the cuts to traffic projects will mean the Village won’t be able to install safety improvements at intersections and sidewalks on Crandon.

About $600,000 survived the governor’s veto pen, including $500,000 to help defray the first phase of the “Big Dig ” near the K-8 school, and $100,000 in funding for special needs programming. 

DeSantis did not explain his reasoning for the vetoes, other than to write that “governments only seem to know how to grow, bloat, and waste,” without providing any specifics.  “Governments should strive to do more with less,” he said. 

Overall, the state spending plan is slightly lower than the current budget and provides 3% raises for state employees and sets aside $1.5 billion that has to be used for teacher raises.

But he didn’t detail the biggest question budget watchers were anticipating: The cuts. The Legislature approved the budget more than three months ago, and DeSantis has been talking for weeks about what he wasn’t going to veto. So, the only mystery left when he signed it was what was getting the ax.

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“I even had some Republican colleagues text me, saying, “Did you get a list? Did you get a list? Did you get a list?” said Democrat Sen. Jason Pizzo.

DeSantis’ office released the veto list about four hours after the governor began his budget-signing ceremony in Tampa, about a four-hour drive from the Capitol.

The 16 pages of cuts came largely from local projects and lawmaker requests, ranging from as little as $10,500 for a Taylor County public works generator to $80 million for group insurance for the state college system.

Key Biscaye fared better than other neighboring municipalities. Coral Gables had two of three funded projects stricken, while South Miami didn’t keep a single project, a legislative aide to State Rep. Vicki Lopez said.

The cuts came even though Republican and Democratic lawmakers had reached consensus on spending. The state budget had passed unanimously in the Senate and 105-3 in the House, where just one Republican and two Democrats opposed the spending plan.

But on late Wednesday afternoon, lawmakers were still analyzing the cuts. “I have to look at it more closely,” Pizzo said.

One thing he did notice was that a lot of local infrastructure projects got chopped.

“As I’m sitting here stuck on a Brightline train because of flooding in my district, all those storm water projects he cut look pretty stupid right now,” Pizzo said.

This story has been updated with comment from the Village administration.

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Editor-in-Chief

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.

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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...