Florida officials' rejection of school safety funding may mean Rick Scott's influence is declining


  • Photo by Joey Roulette
Gov. Rick Scott snapped his fingers and nothing happened, and now he's frustrated with his overall lack of influence on state politics, as he ventures further in his bid to unseat three-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

When Scott, who's leaving office due to term limits, requested to move an additional $58 million from Florida's school safety "guardian program" to hire more campus enforcement, incoming Senate President Bill Galvano and the Joint Legislative Budget Commission balked at the idea.

"We are less than a month into the school year," Galvano told USA Today. "The program is brand-new, and it will take time to see how it is being effectively implemented across the state."

Scott responded during a campaign stop in Jacksonville on Monday, according to a report from the website Florida Politics: "I'm very disappointed. We worked hard to get a good safety bill done after [the Parkland mass shooting.]"

"These are dollars that shouldn't be sitting in Tallahassee," Scott added. "They were supposed to be spent on school safety. If they're not going to spend on the guardian program, they ought to be going to hire more law enforcement officers."

As part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program was created this spring as a direct response to the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland.

The program allows school district employees – with the exception of educators – to carry firearms on campus as a way to cut costs in the state's requirements that at least one armed guard is present in every school.

For the 2018-2019 school year, more than $67 million was set aside to train those who volunteer for the program – each of whom is paid a one-time $500 stipend. However, with the school year already well underway, the majority of that money remains in Tallahassee.

If the commission neglects to distribute the $58 million in remaining funds, Scott said in the letter to the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, the money can't be touched until next year.

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