Crist's vetoes restore health service funds

Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 11:24 p.m.

Gov. Charlie Crist signed a $2.5 billion budget deficit package into law on Tuesday, but not before vetoing a number of spending cuts that would have slashed programs for some of Florida's more vulnerable residents - those with developmental disabilities, mental health and substance abuse issues.

"My primary concern, frankly, is with people directly, the students, the most vulnerable in our society, and with protecting our environmental issues going forward," Crist said after eliminating a large chunk of the $1.9 billion in spending cuts legislators made in the recent special session.

Almost $10 million in proposed cuts to community mental health services for adults and children and substance abuse services for adults, teens and youngsters was salvaged when Crist vetoed four related line items.

Two other cuts from the Agency for Persons With Disabilities budget would have cut services in local communities by another 5 percent, after a 7 percent cut in the last regular legislative session.

Dick Bradley, executive director of the Arc of Alachua County, said Tuesday that supporters of the program for the developmentally disabled had worked hard to secure the governor's veto.

"People were definitely in danger of losing their residential homes, services to assist their families so that they could continue to live at home and services that assist them in acquiring skills," Bradley said.

In restoring some $360 million in funds trimmed from the budget, Crist noted that he hoped the federal stimulus package will spare deeper budget cuts before the fiscal year ends in June.

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