TALLAHASSEE – It was the biggest binge on hometown projects since the pre-Great Recession days.

The Florida Legislature used its best financial outlook in nearly a decade this spring to sprinkle in more taxpayer-funded hometown projects – more than $600 million requested by individual lawmakers during session.

Now Gov. Rick Scott's office is poring over money lawmakers have tucked into their $77.1 billion budget for hometown projects, from a Brevard gun range and gay men’s chorus in Broward to a Panhandle ballet school and Miami observation tower.

The Republican governor in a re-election battle has until June 4 to sign the budget, and could wield an active veto pen.

Lawmakers have defended the spending wrench-work -- which included loading $320 million in previously undisclosed spending items into the budget during the final days of conferencing – as a necessity of the ebb-and-flow of budgetary deal-making.

“Every governor from Jeb Bush to Charlie Crist has used the veto pen, and I would expect this governor would veto some items of the budget,” said Senate President Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who steered $247,000 to a ballet school in his district among other projects.

Likewise, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said he expected the governor to block only projects that are bad policy.

“I don’t think it matters that it’s an election year. The governor’s pretty principled when it comes to fiscal responsibility,” Weatherford said.

On Friday, Florida TaxWatch identified $121 million in projects the business-backed watchdog group said had not gone through proper budgetary channels. And even that TaxWatch analysis took a pass on evaluating the $188 million in water projects lawmakers included in the budget.

Scott spokesman John Tupps noted the governor has vetoed $1 billion in spending since taking office and would be scouring the budget to ensure it “invests in Florida’s future and puts the state on a path toward continued job growth and opportunity for every Floridian.”

Nevertheless, Orange County and South Florida may have the most to lose. Metro Orlando, home to the next two presiding officers of the Legislature, along with Broward and Miami-Dade counties drew the largest amount of local projects.

Orange alone drew more than $1.3 billion – the second-highest statewide next to Miami-Dade County’s $1.8 billion -- in spending according to the county breakdowns the House’s budget staff released last week.

That list lumps pet projects in with major infrastructure like $123 million for Orlando International Airport upgrades, $527 million in general funding for the University of Central Florida, and another $39 million for UCF’s medical school.

But the region scored dozens of other, smaller projects thanks to the clout of incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island.

By comparison, Seminole County landed $163 million in projects, Osceola got $83 million and Lake drew $122.3 million.

Gardiner landed $15 million for a biking trail that will eventually connect the east and west coasts of the state, passing through Orange and Seminole counties. Last year, Scott vetoed $50 million for the project. This time Gardiner is more confident the project will survive.

Orange also landed nearly $2 million for museum and cultural projects, including the Downtown Arts District, the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Mad Cow Theatre, the Orlando Ballet and Orlando Museum of Art. The Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center scored another $500,000.

“I think the governor is going to look at each project and determine that based on the merit of each one of them,” Gardiner said.

Last year, Scott vetoed $367.9 million in spending, and many expect he’ll surpass that total this year in an effort to brandish his conservative bona fides heading into the election. But Gardiner said he didn’t expect the veto list to be “political.”

“I think it will be based on policy, and I think it will be a good number,” he said, adding that he also didn’t expect members’ individual clout to play much of a role in Scott’s decision-making.