Lenny Curry Archives - Page 3 of 119 - Florida Politics

The bills Jacksonville’s City Council won’t consider this week

Three bills that had been expected to highlight the Tuesday evening agenda of the Jacksonville City Council won’t.

The end result: an anticlimactic meeting, mostly because the committee process weeded out three bills that may have been sound policy, but were inconvenient politics – at best.

Extra Pension Payment? No Thanks!

Councilman Danny Becton had an idea: 15 percent of all increases in the general fund would go to the city’s $2.8B unfunded pension liability.

Becton called a public notice meeting to sway council members, and it was a big moment for him – he had complained of not getting media coverage to some reporters.

All the press was there: television, print, radio, and, well, us.

As public notice meetings go, this one began to circle the drain before adjournment. We published a piece. And as soon we did, the Lenny Curry Administration wanted to correct something.

Becton had claimed the administration was “favorable” to the bill. Team Curry – on the record, off the record, and whatever else – pushed back against that assertion, wondering how Becton could have gotten a message of support from the meeting he’d had with senior staffers.

“I don’t know where he got that. But that’s not the case,” Curry told us.

After being informed of mayoral pushback, Becton amended his read to one of being told “they were not going to help me, but they were not going to come out against me.”

Fast forward to the bill’s one committee stop: Finance.

The bill got a 4-1 no vote, with the four who voted no making very pointed remarks in debate.

Becton didn’t want to answer our one question for him: did the mayor’s office kill the bill?

Whether it did or not, the bill is dead. The mystery is why Becton didn’t pull the bill before the inevitable no vote in Finance.

TRUE Sunset? False!

Another failed reform bill: a measure to lower the number of members on Jacksonville’s TRUE Commission for 18 to 11; that bill would have sunset the appointed fiscal watchdog body.

That bill didn’t make it out of the Rules Committee last week.

Councilman Tommy Hazouri, who co-sponsored the bill along with Rules Chairman Garrett Dennis, saw the writing on the wall during the May meeting – at which the bill was deferred.

Hazouri saw the writing on the wall during the May meeting, when Dennis described his “change of heart” on the bill, a change occasioned by pushback from a variety of community stakeholders.

Whatever reforms might happen with TRUE, Dennis doesn’t want to push them forward.

“I don’t want to carry the water on this one,” Dennis said.

No Appointment Necessary

Here’s more water no one wanted to carry in the end, from last week’s Rules Committee, where the panel withdrew its own bill requiring Ethics Commission nominees to be confirmed before sitting.

The impetus for this: a controversial nominee who was withdrawn from consideration after a Facebook spat with the head of the local police union.

The bill illustrated the maxim: hard cases make bad law.

Despite the seeming initial will of the committee to push this bill through, speakers’ opinions ran in the other direction, and the committee flipped toward withdrawal soon thereafter.

Mary Bland Love, voting on the Ethics Commission despite not being confirmed yet, spoke against the bill, saying the current setup allows for a “probationary period to see how a commissioner would perform.”

The goal: keeping the commission “independent.”

“If you had a situation where someone was appointed who was otherwise qualified but for whatever reason someone wanted to sit on the appointment,” Love said, it could hamstring the committee.

Ethics Director Carla Miller likewise spoke in opposition, addressing similar themes regarding the need to keep the committee independent, including noting that in other jurisdictions there is no legislative approval process (with constitutional officers making the appointments).

Former Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Carlucci, the current chair of the Florida Commission on Ethics, spoke up also, lauding the “independence” of the local ethics commission, which was borne in the wake of a grand jury investigation.

That independence, housed in the city charter, was reaffirmed via referendum two years ago.

“It was deliberately discussed,” Carlucci said, “that these appointed members would be able to go ahead and begin work.”

“Anything that chips away at the special independence that any ethics commission has taken away from its ability to execute its mission,” Carlucci said.

Council members took a hint and turned against their own bill.

Hazouri floated the motion for a withdrawal of the bill, noting that optics would look bad if the committee voted against its own bill.

Relationship building: Lenny Curry discusses infrastructure meeting with Donald Trump

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry just returned from Washington D.C., with the highlight of his trip being a Thursday afternoon meeting with Pres. Donald Trump and other elected officials on infrastructure.

Jacksonville has myriad infrastructural needs. And Curry (who attended the meeting along with Gov. Rick Scott) has been arguably the most high-profile supporter of President Trump in any big-city mayor’s office.

Trump, Cabinet officials, and staffers were “soliciting ideas from states and cities on how to get things moving,” Curry said.

Of especial interest — feedback on regulatory and permitting experiences, both positive and negative.

Among the Cabinet members on hand: Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao.

After small-group breakout sessions, the members debriefed with Pres. Trump.

A big priority Curry pushed: the need for JaxPort funding.

Ultimately, though, Mayor Curry saw the meeting as more than just a one and done opportunity, as his political philosophy is predicated on relationship building — and this was an opportunity to talk about specifics with actual people in person, rather than through a proposal on paper.

Curry had been on conference calls with White House officials before, but this level of access to the White House is something Jacksonville lacked with the previous mayor … but is in position to capitalize on currently.

“Relationships are evolving,” Curry said, and federal officials want to understand local needs, to help local officials navigate the system, and to help the system change to facilitate easier processes.

One issue is very familiar to Curry: that of there being “so many agencies that don’t talk to each other,” creating siloes.

Curry says the White House is “working to make sure the regulatory environment is smooth, quick, and smart,” when it comes to getting projects moving forward.

Audiences with the President, for even mayors of major cities, are real. Curry called this one a “special time.”

Surprisingly absent from the afternoon: discussion of James Comey‘s testimony earlier that day.

The meeting was about infrastructure. And relationship building.

The city has already seen some benefit from the new team in the White House; JaxPort is already slated to get $17.5M of long-awaited federal funding for its delayed dredging project.

With myriad needs and a President who wants to reform national infrastructure, Curry’s relationship with President Trump is worth watching. Despite the criticism he takes for supporting Trump, there is no reason for him to do anything but back a Republican President who is in position to help Jacksonville do things with federal dollars that might not fit into the city’s general fund.

Slow May fundraising for Jay Fant political committee

Jacksonville State Rep. Jay Fant wants the GOP nomination for Attorney General.

He announced in May, yoking himself to Pam Bondi‘s legacy, only to find Bondi endorsing his primary opponent, Ashley Moody.

Endorsements aren’t everything, of course. Money helps.

Yet, after a splashy entrance into the race, which included a statewide tour of media markets, a look at the money in Fant’s “Pledge This Day” political committee shows more hat than cattle as of the end of May.

Fant’s committee didn’t even hit five figures in May, with just $9,000 brought in from one donor (J.B. Coxwell Contracting) — sobering news for those Northeast Florida diehards who believe that the man without a country in the Florida House can somehow storm a statewide race.

Of that $9,000, $5,750 went out the door: $3,000 to Fant’s own campaign account, and the balance to Front Line Strategies.

It remains to be seen how much buy-in Fant will get from locals.

At a recent meeting of the Duval County Republican Party, Fant served up red meat, saying that Mayor Lenny Curry — a political ally, up until that point — should have “done more to stop the HRO.”

The HRO, or Human Rights Ordinance, was expanded by a veto-proof majority in February to codify LGBT rights. It is unclear what Curry could have done to stop it.

However, sources familiar with Mayor Curry’s thinking indicate Curry’s displeasure with Fant’s comments. It remains to be seen how adversely that displeasure will affect the dispensation and generosity of the local donor class.

One suspects that it won’t help, however, as Curry may be the most aggressive political operator in Jacksonville in decades, and generally takes note and action when people volunteer criticisms of his governing style.

As the AG field fleshes out this summer, Fant is going to have to show fundraising strength. While self-financing is always an option for the well-heeled Fant, other candidates in the race are certain to demonstrate fundraising momentum … and it is in Fant’s interest to show such a commitment from his Northeast Florida base.

Jax Council committee downs extra pension payment bill; Lenny Curry wins again

Councilman Danny Becton‘s bill (2017-348) obligating the city of Jacksonville to earmark 15 percent of all budget increases to paying down pension debt until 2031 has not met favor with Mayor Lenny Curry.

It did no better in the Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee … where it was panned by most members before the bill was “put out of its misery” — to use Becton’s words.

The bill went down 4-1, with Council President-Designate Anna Brosche, chair of Finance, the only yes vote.

Becton, who compared the city’s historic pension reform package that he voted for to Chapter 11 bankruptcy, pushed the bill in an inconclusive meeting with Councilors Monday.

That was a dress rehearsal, however. Wednesday’s Finance meeting was the real deal, and a measure of whether Becton’s calls for more money for pension obligations was any match at all for the political capital Mayor Curry brings to the table.

Becton, a visitor to the committee, contended that “this bill picks up from … the historic pension reform bills we passed a month ago.”

“I look at those [pension reform] bills as the cake that we made, and this is the icing on the cake,” Becton said.

Becton hit the expected points, including his contention that the Curry pension reform kicks the majority of debt to future generations (via the 1/2 cent sales tax that kicks in in 2030), and his belief that the city’s credit rating will be imperiled if his bill does not pass.

Without his bill, Becton contended, the city is essentially making “minimum payments” on its “credit card” that is the $2.8B unfunded actuarial liability.

“The specifics of this bill is to use 15 percent, and that would leave 85 percent for the city,” Becton continued. “If revenue declines, so would the percent decline of this payment.”

Becton’s math says the city could save $571M over the course of his plan, when compounded interest is included.

Councilors had concerns, and it was soon clear the bill was leaving Council Chambers in a body bag.

Bill Gulliford ruled out support, especially in light of the homestead exemption referendum that could decrease the city’s ad valorem revenues, and in light of the 1/2 cent sales tax being “strictly limited” to the unfunded liability.

“We got the best deal out of the Legislature we could possibly get,” Gulliford said, advising Becton to introduce this during the budget process, rather than at the end of a fiscal year in a standalone bill.

Matt Schellenberg also ruled out support for the measure, urging catching up on quality of life issues, which have been neglected for years.

Aaron Bowman concurred, noting “serious infrastructure and safety concerns,” the Shipyards project, dredging, and other big-ticket items.

Katrina Brown joined the chorus.

“Most Americans and citizens I run across look at tangible stuff they can see,” Brown said, advising the city focus on “a lot of catching up to do.”

Becton found the comments from the committee “disappointing but not surprising,” given the bill “made too much common sense.”

A future generation, Becton said, will “look at this day and wonder what kind of decisions they made for us.”

“There will always be another reason to spend every dime that comes in here and ignore the debt that lays before us,” a visibly wounded Becton said.

After the down vote, we attempted to ask Becton if the mayor’s office killed his bill.

Red-faced, in retreat, Becton refused comment.

We asked Brosche, who was at Monday’s noticed meeting, her thoughts on the vote.

She “didn’t expect as much resistance as there was today,” she told us. However, not all Finance Committee members showed to the noticed meeting, she added.

And if there was pressure from the Mayor’s Office to vote against the bill, it never reached her, Brosche added.

In the end, Curry said it was up to Becton to convince the City Council.

And Becton couldn’t get the bill through one committee.

Collision Course for Danny Becton, Lenny Curry?

A question worth watching: is Jacksonville City Councilman Danny Becton on a collision course with Mayor Lenny Curry?

Certainly, there is reason to question whether the first-term Councilor is on the same page with the priorities and agenda of the Mayor.

Consider a bill that will be considered in Finance Wednesday morning: Becton’s 2017-348, which would require that 15 percent of all general fund money beyond the baseline FY 16-17 budget go toward defraying the city’s $2.8B unfunded actuarial liability on pension.

At a Monday public notice meeting discussing the bill, Becton revealed how far apart he was from the top Republican in the city on matters of budgeting and – just as importantly – presentation.

Becton asserted that the Lenny Curry administration, via CFO Mike Weinstein, had a “very favorable” read on the bill.

That account was disputed. Strenuously. By Mayor Curry.

“I don’t know where he got that. But that’s not the case,” Curry told us minutes after we published a piece on the meeting … while the meeting was still going on.

Curry demurred from addressing Becton’s other contentions, which included a comparison of his pension reform package to Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, and a description of the city’s pension-related spending habits as being like someone with a credit score of 500 or 600 paying the minimum on his credit card.

However, Curry did, via the Florida Times-Union, make a point that was hard to miss regarding his reform package: “It seems [Becton] needs to convince the majority of the council to see if they agree with him.”

Translation: good luck with that – especially given that many of Curry’s strongest relationships on Council are with Democrats.

After being informed of mayoral pushback, Becton amended his read to one of being told “they were not going to help me, but they were not going to come out against me.”

If that is the Councilman’s definition of favorability, one wonders what unfavorable looks like.

Those following this administration closely know its fiscal policy: a belief in low-interest rate, long-term loans for capital projects; pay-go wherever possible; and not obligating cash for the sake of obligating it.

Even when some Council members moved, months back, to boost the emergency reserve from 5 to 6 percent after noting favorable budget variances, cold water was splashed on that move.

Despite Curry and Becton both being Republicans, the most notable thing about that meeting Monday arguably was that no administration members sat at the table with the Councilors … but Bill Bishop, one key irritant to Mayor Curry, was in attendance.

Recall, if you will, the fractious nature of the 2015 mayoral campaign. Bishop was frustrated by lost endorsements, claiming that the machine lined up being Curry. And Bishop got his revenge after being eliminated from the mayoral race –  crossing party lines to endorse Alvin Brown, and then campaigning heavily with Brown down the stretch, while neither Brown nor Bishop denied that the termed-out Councilman was in line for a key role in Brown’s second term.

Of course, Brown lost that election. But Curry – who once talked to his lawyer after a pre-endorsement conversation with Bishop, in which he claimed Bishop lobbied him for a job – doesn’t forget these things.

Bill Bishop being brought in for a policy meeting in Curry’s City Hall: one optical problem created Monday.

A second optical problem: for members of the Curry administration, Becton going rogue has to remind them of the pushback the Councilman offered during the amphitheater discussion over a year ago.

The city and Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan both ponied up $45M each for stadium improvements, including the new amphitheater and a covered practice field for the Jaguars.

While the deal was presented to Council, it was one of those deals that the mayor’s staff and Khan’s people had hashed out already.

Becton, by far, offered the most pushback, questioning the administration’s use of low-interest rate loans and noting that bed tax revenue barely covered the interest on the $43M Jacksonville had borrowed just two years prior for the world’s largest scoreboards.

All that pushback in committees was just theater, however. In the end, Becton caved.

Jags’ lobbyist Paul Harden talked to Becton, it turned out, though they couldn’t agree on how long the conversation was. Becton said it was half an hour and Harden sais it was 90 minutes.

Beyond that, both men basically agreed that the gist of the conversation was along the lines of “how can I flip your vote?”

The vote, of course, flipped. And one expects that, in the end, Becton will see the extra pension payment issue the way the folks in the mayor’s office did also.

More summer camp money provided for ‘at-hope’ Jacksonville kids

An issue among Jacksonville City Council members in recent weeks: how to get the funding needed for summer camps for at-risk  youth?

A “major announcement” was delivered by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry Friday on that subject, with 24 more sites being funded (bringing the total to 72 citywide, down from 98 previously), $958,000 more being allocated, and 1,700 more kids being served than would have previously been possible.

Last year’s Summer Camp program included 98 sites serving 6,258 youth, asserted a press release from the Mayor’s Office.

For Curry, the matter was part of fulfilling a campaign promise of prioritizing prevention and intervention, to keep today’s at-risk kids — or as he has taken to calling them, “at hope kids” — out of the criminal justice system.

Curry was “frustrated” and  “surprised to learn of significant cuts” to per-capita camp allocations.

While the $958,000 was a “band aid,” Curry said that he would introduce reforms to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, including ensuring alignment between the Jacksonville Children’s Commission and the Jax Journey — his administration’s key anti-crime initiative.

When asked if the two could be merged, Curry said “all options are on the table,” depending on the “best interest of kids.”

How did we get here? As is often the case, it was a slow drift through various layers of administration.

In January, the Jacksonville Children’s Commission made the decision to devote finite resources to more intensive, longer summer camps, after discussions with service providers.

That decision, reports the Florida Times-Union, was made despite no plans to add more money to the pot. And a problem was created.

“When the results became public, some non-profits, including giants like Communities in Schools and the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida, were left with fewer dollars than in past years and locations that once had programs were without,” the Times-Union report continued.

Lenny Curry: Paris Accord ‘has no teeth to it’

Breaking with most big city mayors that have thus far opined on President Donald Trump withdrawing from the Paris Accord: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

campaigned on American jobs, cutting regs that killed those jobs &he won.He’s doing what he said he would do. ,” Curry Tweeted Thursday evening.

Curry, during a press conference Friday morning discussing summer camp funding, explained his Tweet, which he said “spoke for itself.”

“I didn’t take a specific position,” Curry said about the Paris Accord, saying his Tweet was a “general statement of support” for Trump’s actions.

Rather, Curry supports President Trump’s commitment to “American jobs.” But he did outline qualms with the agreement itself, including no obligation imposed on China until 2030, which means “13 years on the backs of American workers.”

And other European countries, Curry said, are seeing their emissions go up, even as American emission levels decrease.

The Paris Accord, Curry added, “has no teeth to it.”

We asked Jacksonville City Council President-Designate Anna Brosche her take on Curry’s Tweet on Thursday evening. She said she had “no opinion”, as she was “focused on local politics.” Democratic Councilors, such as Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown, likewise were less than specific.

One City Councilman who was willing to take a position: Curry’s fellow Republican, Councilman Jim Love.

Love, a believer in climate change, said it was “shortsighted … to pull out of the whole thing,” even as some points need revision, as “Florida will bear the brunt” of climate change.

Curry has been willing to fly in the face of seeming scientific consensus on climate change issues before.

Curry drew criticism in 2016 for leaving the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative, which offered $1M grants for city-level actions against climate change.

As Jacksonville deals with flooding, as it has this week, expect that at least some out there will demonstrate chagrin at Curry’s aligning with President Trump on this issue.

Curry has already exchanged banter with local media on Twitter, which he saw as editorializing on this matter.

Jacksonville gears up for 2017 hurricane season

Last year, Hurricane Matthew cut a swath of destruction through Duval County, just as it did the rest of the East Coast.

In Northeast Florida alone, the storm caused $1B in property damage, despite the storm having lost strength and having had the eyewall veer east as it approached Duval County, which itself took $50M of damage — much of which is in the process of FEMA reimbursement.

With an active hurricane season expected in 2017, Jacksonville policy makers are again gearing up for the worst.

Though in 2016, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry described Matthew as a “100-year storm,” the reality is that Matthew illustrated a reality for which any city government near the Eastern Seaboard must prepare.

After all, as Hurricane Andrew showed in South Florida a quarter-century ago, all it takes is one storm to cause catastrophic damage.

To that end, Jacksonville officials held a presser Thursday, promoting the need for a hurricane plan, along with the hurricane prep website (JaxReady.com).

Media that was on hand, of course, had questions also.

With talk in Jacksonville City Council months back of increasing the city’s emergency reserve from 5 percent to 6 percent of the city’s general fund budget (roughly a $12M boost of the fund), we asked Mayor Curry if there were plans to recommend that boost.

Curry said that a “management review process” was occurring now, and beyond that, “we don’t want to give any hints what the budget will look like.”

Though the process of post-Matthew recovery was largely a smooth one, with debris being cleared quickly, there were still hiccups in 2016.

JEA’s CEO was out of town as the storm beared down on Jacksonville, which created some consternation as power recovery took up to a week for some Jacksonville residents.

That and other process elements, said Curry, are being reviewed, with the goal of “minimizing” impact.

Questions emerged also about the Jacksonville Beach Pier and other storm-damaged fixtures still in the process of repair.

The city, said Curry, is continuing to work toward reimbursement, ensuring compliance with FEMA guidelines.

“Where we have direct control,” Curry said, “we move.”

“In the event of a state of emergency,” Curry added, “we have funds available in the event we need to move.”

Adam Putnam sets Ponte Vedra fundraiser for June 13

The gubernatorial campaign of Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam continues apace, with $13.4M raised between the campaign account and Putnam’s “Florida Grown” political committee.

That money helps obscure minor staff moves, like the dumping of a campaign manager in late-May … a story FloridaPolitics.com brought to you first.

And more money is on the way, courtesy of deep-pocketed Jacksonville-area donors on June 13.

“Putnam is coming to Ponte Vedra.  A small reception will be held at the home of Dr. John Lazzara on June 13 from 6:00-8:30 pm.  Proceeds will support Adam Putnam for Governor,” writes Chris Lazzara in an email to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

A “select group” will attend this event, Chris Lazzara adds.

Putnam was in Jacksonville Beach in May, on a 10-day/22-stop barnstorming bus tour. And he had a legendary name by his side: former Rep. Ander Crenshaw.

When we asked Putnam for specifics about Northeast Florida, and what he would bring to the region, Putnam took a high-level view.

“Northeast Florida,” said Putnam, “is a critically important part of the state’s economy. And the state’s political base. Northeast Florida has a unified business community, and they send hardworking men and women to Tallahassee and Washington.”

“So whether it’s the jobs that Northeast Florida continues to attract, the importance of the port, the importance of the river, Northeast Florida is and will always be an important part of the state’s political conversation, and most importantly, the state’s economy,” Putnam added.

Putnam may not be a hot quote, but the Northeast Florida donor class seems to be with him — a critical point.

If Rep. Ron DeSantis gets in the race for governor, as his camp asserts is at least possible, DeSantis would need Jacksonville support.

Word on the street, however, is that DeSantis’ often-aloof personality could hold him back; at least one key source has described DeSantis in robustly scatological terms when asked about the Congressman’s chances with the Northeast Florida donor class.

Will Rick Scott’s veto pen affect Northeast Florida priorities?

Northeast Florida, like the rest of the state, waits for Gov. Rick Scott to review the budget from the Florida Legislature.

Scott has been typically vague on his real disposition on the budget: the new-school “Veto Corleone” hasn’t ruled out a full-on veto, or line item vetoes.

And in recent months, Gov. Scott has been a frequent visitor to the Jacksonville area, laying into the area’s State Representatives – who, except for Jay Fant, voted with House Speaker Richard Corcoran on incentive votes (Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida).

Will those votes (Faustian bargains for many freshman legislators) affect Scott’s dispensation on regional projects?

The Governor won’t say. But here’s what’s at stake, county by county.

____

Baker County

Of all the counties in the region, Baker has the least to worry about in terms of vetoes.

The most ambitious ask: $2.75M for a road project.

However, it is worth noting that Baker’s State Representative, Republican Elizabeth Porter, was targeted as recently as march by robocalls from Scott’s political committee, “Let’s Get to Work.”

“Unfortunately, your state representative … is playing politics with Florida’s jobs … voted to decimate Florida’s tourism and jobs programs. And that will destroy our economy and lead to higher taxes,” the ad said.

____

Clay County

Also targeted in the aforementioned March robocall: Clay Republican Travis Cummings, who was set up for more than a soupcon of Scott scorn anytime the Governor was in the Jacksonville media market.

“How could somebody do this … are any of these jobs expendable? Call Travis, ask him ‘why would you do this’,” Scott urged in March, after Cummings went against incentives in a committee.

Clay’s asks include lots of small-dollar projects – relatively speaking – including money for a community theater and for road resurfacing projects.

However, there are two long bombs mixed in with the dink-and-dunk passing game: $13.3M for the St. Johns River and Keystone Lakes projects, and $103.7M for right of way land acquisition for the First Coast Expressway.

Don’t expect these to hit the cutting room floor; a powerful ally and friend of Gov. Scott, Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley, carried these measures through the Senate.

“After years of researching and talking and planning, we now have actual funding to start addressing the needs of these wonderful natural resources that define our region,” Bradley remarked regarding the $13.3M project earlier this month.

A few days later, at an interminably long mid-May ribbon cutting event on a sun-baked blacktop in Jacksonville, Bradley addressed that issue again … managing to mix contrition and levity.

“We didn’t get things with this budget,” Bradley said. “Governor, I wish we could have done better this session.”

“Whatever you do, we understand,” the Clay County Senator said. “Just don’t do anything about the Keystone Lakes though.”

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Duval County

The paradox here: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is a friend and political ally of Gov. Scott; the local legislative delegation – Republicans and Democrats alike – went against Scott on incentive votes.

One of those legislators, Rep. Jason Fischer, described the just-wrapped Legislative Session as a “strong” one, where “everybody got to eat.”

Problem is, of course, that until Scott signs the budget, that food can be taken out of everybody’s mouths.

Among the victuals: almost $14M for projects related to the Jacksonville International Airport; various bridge projects in areas of town that always get jobbed out on infrastructural spending; cultural grants and delinquency diversion programs; road projects, including $10M for arterial traffic management on the Buckman Bridge, and $25.9M for A1A; $15.5M for JAXPORT dredging; $73M for Florida State College at Jacksonville; $154M for University of North Florida.

Mayor Curry likely will be the key here to ensuring that Jacksonville comes out OK in the end.

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Nassau County

Of the 38 total projects for Nassau County, just four are asks over $1.6M.

The most expensive project: $11M for road resurfacing on SR 15 (US 1). There are also two projects related to the port of Fernandina Beach: $3.65M for dredging, and $3M for a crane and warehouse.

While Rep. Cord Byrd hasn’t exactly ingratiated himself with Gov. Scott, it’s hard to see where significant vetoes come from in Nassau County’s appropriations asks.

___

St. Johns County

St. Johns County’s appropriations asks are different than many of the other counties in the region.

The biggest asks: $4.8M for Medicaid rate enhancement for Flagler Hospital, and $5.5M for VPK.

For a handful of road projects, requests are also modest, for roadway resurfacing, preliminary engineering studies, and right of way land acquisition.

The county is dealing with the pains brought on by rapid growth. And while the Governor’s veto pen could hurt constituents of Paul Renner and Cyndi Stevenson, there somehow seems to be less on the line for SJC than the other counties in the Jacksonville metropolitan area.

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