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Pasco projects should carry on, despite the governor's vetoes

Aerial photo of the planned Moffitt Cancer Center campus.
Moffitt Cancer Center
Aerial photo of the planned Moffitt Cancer Center campus. The Suncoast Parkway is in the background

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed line items in the upcoming state budget that would have helped pay for a new Moffitt Cancer Center campus and spring training facility in Pasco County.

Plans to build two major projects in Pasco County are on hold - at least temporarily - after Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed funding for them in the upcoming state budget.

About $35 million would have helped build a sports complex that would likely become the new spring training site for the Tampa Bay Rays. Also, $600 million in recurring money over the next 30 years would have gone to a new biotech campus for Moffitt Cancer Center.

“I do not support the provision of funding that would tie the state to a long-term, 30-year commitment that inhibits budget flexibility,” DeSantis wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Cord Byrd. "These state funds could be used to support more than $300 million of bonding capacity that would impact the state's debt capacity without any state oversight."

Despite the setbacks, plans are still in place for the Moffitt Campus, located off the Suncoast Parkway.

Bill Cronin, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, considers this a temporary setback.

"It's definitely a kick in the gut, but not insurmountable," Cronin said. "I mean I think the theme here that I hope people recognize is perseverance, in that we'll work hard and we'll continue to work hard to be able to get things done."

Cronin said the veto could delay some of the planned building phases of Moffitt's planned campus.

"We'll continue to press on and try to find complimentary or supplementary or even alternative funding," he said. "But there's enough there to get this going, keep going and it's the phasing I think that will be impacted the most."

And Pasco Commissioners now must decide if they want to spend public dollars to build the sports complex.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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