GOVERNOR BUSH VETOES MEDICAID FUNDING FOR ELDERLY-Andrew Stelzer

05/30/06

When governor Bush announced the list of bills he would veto last week, he downplayed the fact that 449 million dollars worth of projects approved by the legislature would be rejected, a new record for the state of Florida. Although many were pet projects of individual legislators, or so called “turkeys�, there were also many cuts to healthcare programs, including $91 million dollars to help pay for additional staff to care for elderly Floridians on Medicaid. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer has more.

ACT-Woodall “The old cliché is pennywise and pound foolish

Karen Woodall has been lobbying and dong community organizing for 27 years; this session, she lobbied for the national organization for women on healthcare issues.

ACT-Woodall “The legislature had provided 25 million to restore cuts to nursing homes and the leg was restoring those…�

The 91 million in Medicaid cuts wasn’t all that fell to the governor’s pen. State senator Rod Smith, speaking at a meet and greet with votes in Tampa on Memorial Day, said he’s never seen so many vetoes of programs for the needy.

ACT-Smith “There were autism programs cuts, juvenile, Alzheimer’s research in the state that’s number 1..if you want to call them turkeys..how do you say those aren’t abiding needs for the state..�

Bush also vetoed 20 million dollars for Jackson memorial hospital in Miami, and half a million for Tallahassee memorial hospitals trauma center. But Last week, he defended the vetoes as good fiscal management.

ACT-Jeb ‘We are exercising common sense money management like families..’

But Woodall says the Governors explanation doesn’t make sense in a year with a massive budget surplus.

ACT-Woodall “Its one thing if you are short of money, but that’s was not the case..�

In fact, she says the vetoes are unwise financial management.

ACT-Woodall “There wasn’t anyone lobbying against them…there are stated reasons..you have to dig deeper than that..keep in mind that when a Medicaid item is vetoed you may save general revenue but you lose a higher amount of money in federal dollars…27 million saved, but 34 million in matching was lost but that much money isn’t coming into Florida. so one questions that..we don’t save federal dollars and when florid doesn’t spend other states take that money..we lose it and the general public and legs don’t understand..�

State Senator Rod Smith, who is also running for governor, said he doesn’t believe the vetoes were appropriate, and used the opportunity to say he would do differently if he is elected to replace the term limited Bush this November.

ACT-Smith “I don’t think the pen is there to stop helping people who are disabled. I can’t believe it was so pressing but we did tax cut. I can’t believe that happened in the same year..�

Woodall says she wouldn’t be surprised if Bush’s vetoes had something to do with the fact that several of his own priorities, including trying to scale back the class size reduction amendment, were not supported by Republican members of the legislature. She said its hard to find another explanation when the Republican Party was united behind the Medicaid funding.

ACT-Woodall “I was surprised because the legislature—rep controlled had worked it out..the veto has been used to punish those who didn’t carry out his agenda, and that happened in the senate and the folk who lobbied for the staffing issues were for Miami..�

Last week, Governor Bush denied any political retaliation.

ACT-Jeb “You would think after a while they would realize I’m principled..you are searching where’s the Villalobos projects—this is not about politics..�

To view a list of Florida Taxwatchs budget turkeys, and which of those items Governor Bush vetoed, log onto www.floridataxwatch.org

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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