Hometown Projects Fill Out Legislative Budget Plans
As the House and Senate prepare to hammer out a $4.2 billion divide in budget proposals released last week, they have plenty of hometown pork to barter.
Scattered throughout the 300-plus page documents from both chambers are local projects that lawmakers are trying to bring home to their districts. That could mean public dollars for an art, sports or youth program, agricultural or educational endeavor or for beach or road work.
Among about 200 proposals are $1 million for industrial basin improvements at the Port of Panama City, $500,000 to help relocate the Miami International Boat Show to the Miami Marine Stadium, $250,000 for the Citrus County Marine Science Station, $250,000 to restore the St. Marks Lighthouse in Wakulla County, $250,000 for the Arcadia Rodeo and $50,000 for the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce.
There is also $2.25 million for a parking structure for the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, $1 million for the Circus Arts Conservatory in Sarasota, $724,000 for the St. Marks River Boardwalk, $150,000 for the Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami and $200,000 for the Southeast U.S./Japan Association and Florida/Korea Economic Cooperation Committee.
In addition, there is $400,000 for a two-story house in Marion County where Arizona Donnie "Ma" Barker --- the mother of members of the Depression-era Barker-Karpis Gang --- was killed in a shootout with members of the FBI.
Just being on the initial budget lists doesn't ensure a project will make the final cut.
In many cases, only one chamber has put projects in their spending plans, which will be negotiated over the next six weeks.
Also, the projects could be vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott.
Last year, Scott slashed $68.9 million worth of pet projects from across the state while signing a record $77 billion spending plan into law.
In 2013, Scott used his line-item veto power to cut $368 million from what had been a $74.5 billion budget. He cut $142.7 million from the spending plan in 2012, after nixing $615 million his first year in office.
For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1, a number of local projects have found similar funding in both chambers, such as $175,000 for the New Smyrna Beach Museum of East Coast Surfing and $1 million for capital improvements to the Tampa Theatre. Also, the restoration of the William Weech American Legion Post in Key West is up for $154,000.
But many other items backed by at least one local Senator or House member have yet to find an agreed-upon price tag.
For example, the House is putting up $1 million for the Field of Dreams, a sports facility in Melbourne for children and adults with disabilities. The Senate has countered with $200,000.
The Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum in Franklin County is up for $650,000 by the House and $100,000 in the Senate.
The USS Charles Adams Floating Museum, which is to be part of Jacksonville's downtown waterfront, has a line item of $1 million in the House. The other chamber is at half that total.
The House is at $155,000 for a grant to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, while the Senate line item stands at $1 million.
Meanwhile, the Senate has posted $1 million for a youth soccer academy and training ground in Northeast Florida. The House is at $200,000 for the training facility.
The House proposals give a little better idea of how some of the money could be spent from a voter-approved constitutional amendment that requires setting aside funds for land and water projects. The money would flow through a trust fund.
The House spreads $22.5 million for 19 beach renourishment projects from the fund, topped by $6 million at Navarre Beach, $3.16 million for south Siesta Key, $2.78 million in Broward County, $2 million for Brevard County, $1.7 million at central Boca Raton Beach and $1.5 million for Collier County.
The House also would divide $591,300 from the trust fund for inlet management plans at Port Canaveral, Lake Worth and Boca Inlet.
Another $1.95 million would be used from the trust fund for a number of post-construction shore protection monitoring projects that are located in St. Johns County, Fort Pierce, Brevard County, Jupiter, south Amelia Island, north Boca Raton, Wabasso, Collier County, Ocean Ridge, Martin County and south St. Lucie County.