In area visit, Scott says bud­get will aid vet­er­ans

Pro­posal also ben­e­fits first re­spon­ders, ac­tive duty ser­vice mem­bers.

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Wayne Washington Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Speak­ing at Cheney Broth­ers dis­trib­u­tors in Riviera Beach, the gov­er­nor said his $178M pro­posal also would help first re­spon­ders.

RIVIERA BEACH — Gov. Rick Scott touted his pro­posed state bud­get for 2018 as a boon to mil­i­tary vet­er­ans dur­ing a post-Vet­er­ans Day stop in Riviera Beach on Mon­day morn­ing.

The gov­er­nor’s pro­posed bud­get — which the Leg­is­la­ture usu­ally con­sid­ers but is un­der no obli­ga­tion to use when it cre­ates the state’s an­nual spend­ing plan — in­cludes $178 mil­lion for pro­grams and ini­tia­tives aimed at help­ing first re­spon­ders, ac­tive duty mil­i­tary ser­vice mem­bers and vet­er­ans.

“Our mil­i­tary, first re­spon­ders and law en­force­ment mem­bers make the coura­geous de­ci­sion to put their lives on the line ev­ery day to pro­tect our coun­try, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties, and I look for­ward to work­ing with the Leg­is­la­ture dur­ing the up­com­ing ses­sion as we con­tinue to do all we can to sup­port th­ese he­roes,” Scott said in a press re­lease de­scrib­ing the mil­i­tary and first-re­spon­ders spend­ing pro­pos­als.

Speak­ing at Cheney Broth­ers Inc., a food dis­trib­u­tor lo­cated be­tween In­ter­state 95 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boule­vard, Scott noted his own ser­vice in the U.S. Navy and the ser­vice of his late fa­ther, a U.S. Army vet­eran who served in World War II.

As he has at other lo­ca­tions in Florida, Scott awarded ser­vice medals to em­ploy­ees who served in the mil­i­tary. They stood be­hind him as he spoke Mon­day and, when sum­moned by the gov­er­nor, each stepped for­ward so Scott could drape a medal around his or her neck.

Cheney Broth­ers par­tic­i­pates in a state pro­gram set up to help sub­si­dize the train­ing of vet­er­ans as they seek civil­ian jobs. The firm has hired 42 vet­er­ans through the pro­gram over the past year, said War­ren Newell, a former Palm Beach County com­mis­sioner and di­rec­tor of de­vel-

op­ment at Cheney Broth­ers.

Those hires pleased the gov­er­nor.

“I want to con­grat­u­late them for all of the vet­er­ans that they hire,” Scott said of the com­pany.

The bud­get bat­tle dur­ing the up­com­ing leg­isla­tive ses­sion is ex­pected to be even more in­tense than usual as law­mak­ers strug­gle to weigh the de­sire for tax cuts and pro­gram fund­ing against rev­enue. And the pol­i­tics of the bud­get is likely to be af­fected by the for­tunes of Scott, state Sen. Jack Lat­vala, R-Clear­wa­ter, and House Speaker Richard Cor­co­ran, R-Land-O’Lakes.

Scott, a Repub­li­can, is ex­pected to chal­lenge Demo­cratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nel­son as he seeks re-elec­tion. Lat­vala, the former Se­nate Bud­get Com­mit­tee chair­man em­broiled in a sex­ual ha­rass­ment scan­dal, has an­nounced plans to run for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for gov­er­nor. And Cor­co­ran is ex­plor­ing his own Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial run.

Scott’s bud­get pro­posal in­cludes:

■ About $8 mil­lion to be­gin op­er­a­tions at the Lake Bald­win State Vet­er­ans Nurs­ing Home.

■ $2.7 mil­lion to sup­port vet­er­ans look­ing for em­ploy­ment or start­ing their own busi­nesses.

■ $2 mil­lion to build and mod­ify homes for vet­er­ans who were se­verely wounded dur­ing ser­vice in Iraq and Afghanistan.

■ $200,000 for search and res­cue ves­sels and pro­tec­tive equip­ment for Na­tional Guards­men to use dur­ing de­ploy­ments.

Scott also an­nounced his sup­port for a pro­posed amend­ment to the state con­sti­tu­tion that would call for free col­lege tu­ition for fam­ily mem­bers of first re­spon­ders, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and mil­i­tary ser­vice mem­bers who die in the line of duty.

The pro­posal calls for a sur­viv­ing fam­ily mem­ber to get 120 credit hours — enough for a four-year de­gree — at a Florida state col­lege, univer­sity or par­tic­i­pat­ing tech­ni­cal school.

If the Con­sti­tu­tion Re­vi­sion Com­mis­sion ap­proves the pro­posal, it would be placed on the bal­lot in 2018. The pro­posal would then have to get 60 per­cent of the vote to go into ef­fect.

“We will never be able to re­pay our fallen of­fi­cers or ser­vice mem­bers who have bravely given their lives, but it is our duty to en­sure that their fam­i­lies are sup­ported as if they were our own,” Scott said.

Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Bur­dick, a Demo­crat, at­tended the event. She, too, praised vet­er­ans and first re­spon­ders, but af­ter the gov­er­nor made his re­marks, she called on him to do more for vet­er­ans and other cit­i­zens strug­gling to af­ford hous­ing.

Over the past decade, she said law­mak­ers have used $1.2 bil­lion in hous­ing trust funds for other pur­poses as they bal­anced the bud­get. Bur­dick urged Scott to push law­mak­ers to use hous­ing funds for hous­ing.

“Hous­ing in Palm Beach County and other ar­eas of the state is in a cri­sis sit­u­a­tion,” Bur­dick said. “It’s a crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion. We need the gov­er­nor’s lead­er­ship.”

As Bur­dick spoke, Scott was mak­ing his way back through the Cheney Broth­ers fa­cil­ity to a ve­hi­cle that would take him out of town.

BRUCE R. BEN­NETT / THE PALM BEACH POST

Joined by em­ploy­ees of Cheney Broth­ers Inc., a food dis­trib­u­tor, Gov. Rick Scott dis­cusses his 2018 bud­get pro­posal at a news con­fer­ence Mon­day in Riviera Beach.

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