When I first became governor, state debt was climbing, families and job creators were overtaxed, and Florida’s economy was hurting. Even in the face of these dismal realities, state leaders were hesitant to reel back their wasteful spending and take real steps to protect taxpayer dollars. Thankfully, unlike in Washington, Florida’s budget process includes the line item veto – an important tool that encourages responsible spending by allowing the executive branch to remove any project that wastes taxpayer dollars.
Every year we saw hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of unreasonable projects slip into the state budget – at the expense of Florida taxpayers. And every year, I carefully and deliberately reviewed the budget line by line to eliminate reckless spending. It was important to me that state leaders, communities and Floridians understood why each project was removed, which is why I explained the reason for each veto, such as no return on investment, having federal or local funding already available, or funding never even being requested. Ultimately, the only way to make government function is to say no to some spending requests. The federal government currently tries to do too much, but by vetoing more than 1,800 pet projects here in Florida over the past seven and half years, we saved Florida taxpayers more than $2.4 billion.
This new focus on responsible spending in Florida meant more funding was available to pay down state debt, cut taxes and invest in what matters most to our families, like securing historic funding to support our education system and protect our environment. Florida’s economy has experienced an incredible economic turnaround and families and businesses from all across the country are coming to Florida to succeed. But while Florida has set an example for wise spending, Washington continues to fall farther and farther behind.
That’s why the third proposal of my ‘Make Washington Work Plan’ will help hold Congress accountable for wasteful spending by providing the executive branch with the constitutional ability to remove individual budget projects through a line item veto. Washington should be creating budgets that serve Americans, not the political ambitions of career politicians. And when politicians in D.C. slip pet projects in the budget in an attempt to score political points – with no regard for the taxpayers who pay for it – the president should have the authority to eliminate this waste, just as the governor does in Florida.
I know there will be politicians who say this cannot be done, or that it has been tried and failed before – but that’s no reason to not fight for what is clearly best for American families. That’s why it’s time to elect new leaders with new ideas, and why my “Make Washington Work” Plan is meant to reform the tired old ways of thinking in Washington and make sure Congress actually works for families across the nation – not just for career politicians. My first two proposals were implementing term limits in Congress and requiring a supermajority vote of two-thirds of each house of Congress to approve any tax or fee increase before it can become law.
Politicians in Washington love to tell you about all the common sense, smart things that cannot be done. We need to get rid of the politicians who always tell us what we cannot do. There is no excuse to not bring Florida’s way of thinking to Washington. Career politicians from both parties have one thing in common – they love spending taxpayer money. But now is the time to put a stop to Congress’ enthusiasm for wasteful spending. After all, it’s not the government’s money – it’s the money of hardworking American families and job creators, and a line item veto makes certain Americans are getting the most value for their investment.
(TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Rick Scott, Governor of Florida, released the above op-ed highlighting the third proposal of his “Make Washington Work” plan to end wasteful spending in Washington by providing the executive branch with the constitutional ability to remove individual budget projects through a line item veto.)