Steve Crisafulli Archives - Page 6 of 35 - Florida Politics

With downtown campus funding in budget, UCF hopes it has satisfied Rick Scott

The University of Central Florida has walked a careful path to line up support for what had been a controversial plan for a downtown Orlando campus, and now the university has everything but the governor’s signature.

No one is taking that for granted, though.

Over the weekend, with pushes from Senate President Andy Gardiner of Orlando and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli of Merritt Island, the Florida Legislature’s budget conference included the $20 million UCF needs.

That came a few days after the Florida Board of Governors signed off, even as key members of that board stated flatly they would not have done so based on how the plan had first been presented.

Last month the city of Orlando pushed all its chips onto the table, signing a memorandum of understanding that it would provide $68 million worth of land, buildings and infrastructure.

Civic leaders and organizations in Orlando also have chipped in on their own, raising $16 million in private donations over the past four months toward a promised goal of $20 million.

It all hinges, though, on a critical set of promises and concessions that the university agreed to in January after UCF officials and officials of Gov. Rick Scott met in December to sort out what the university could do to change his mind.

Scott vetoed money last summer for the campus. He still has not made any statements about whether he’ll change his mind this time. That’s where the UCF memorandum of understanding, approved by the UCF Board of Trustees in January, becomes critical.

UCF Senior Vice President for University Relations Dan Holsenbeck called the budget appropriation a “huge relief,” but not the final relief.

“Honestly, it would not be possible without, first and foremost, the real support and tenacity of the Speaker and the President,” Holsenbeck said.

“But we also have to recognize that we worked with the Governor and his staff over the holidays and addressed most of his issues,” he said. “I’m not speculating that he is going to sign it or not veto it, But we worked out the issues of concern to him.”

Those issues included UCF promises:

  • to focus the academic offerings on majors that would address downtown workforce needs;
  • to review progress and weed out programs that have low student demand;
  • to pursue the goal of 100 percent job placement in the two most popular degree programs within a year of graduation;
  • to set up an instructional model that would involve about 46 percent of instruction coming from traditional classroom lectures, 38 percent from hybrid methods, and 16 percent as on-line studies;
  • to not build its own student dormitories downtown, but to allow private developers to offer private student housing; and
  • to not seek any more state money until after the campus opens for the 2018-19 year.

The downtown campus was not the only major UCF project to get funding in the conference budget.

UCF also is getting $14 million for continued development of a joint-use set of facilities for military research in the university’s research park. It also got more than $3 million to finish renovations of a UCF engineering building, and more than $4 million for a multidisciplinary lab building on campus.

Next up for UCF, and for the University of South Florida: anticipation that they could get money and recognition as universities of “emerging preeminence.”

Both universities are hoping the new category is created as a notch below the current universities of preeminence category that brings the University of Florida and Florida State University additional funding.

Bills are alive in both legislative chambers to create the new category, and the universities are hoping the money will appear in the budget. They expect $20 million to be set aside for UF and FSU to split, and an amount equal to half of what the preeminent universities get — $10 million this year — for UCF and USF to split.

Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, other Florida politicians react to Nancy Reagan’s death

Politicians throughout Florida responded to Sunday’s report of the death of Nancy Reagan at the age of 95. Reactions come from federal, state, and local Republican elected officials.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has described himself as among the “children of the (Ronald) Reagan Revolution,” tweeted his condolences, writing that “today our nation mourns the loss of Nancy Reagan, a true example of integrity and grace. My prayers are with the entire Reagan family.”

Later Rubio issued a longer statement:

“Nancy Reagan was a woman of incredible grace and strength who served as an inspiration to an entire generation of Americans. As First Lady, she chose not only to lead with her distinctive style and poise, but also to take a stand on tough issues, such as the prevention of recreational drug abuse.

“For conservatives, she has been a powerful living link to her husband’s legacy as one of the greatest modern presidents. Through her work with the Reagan Library she has been active in extending the impact of his leadership and message to a new generation.

“It was an honor to have met Mrs. Reagan when I spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in 2011. She went out of her way to warmly welcome Jeanette and me. She will be sorely missed by those who knew her,” Rubio concluded, “and forever remembered by a grateful nation.”

U.S. Rep. David Jolly acknowledged specific aspects of Mrs. Reagan’s indelible legacy:

“Today the world lost someone who defined dignity and grace, a survivor and role model and a First Lady who cared deeply about our youth and this nation. Nancy Reagan was also a strong voice, a fierce protector and confidant to one of the greatest American Presidents in history.

“A loving and devoted wife to Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan saved countless lives with her efforts to fight drug abuse through her ‘Just Say No’ campaign. A cancer survivor, she encouraged women to get annual mammograms and her Foster Grandparents campaign connected children who she said ‘needed to be loved and grandparents who needed to feel wanted.’   My prayers and condolences go out to the Reagan family.”

State officials, from Gov. Rick Scott on down, likewise offered their thoughts.

Governor Scott said, “Ann and I join the nation in mourning the loss of Nancy Reagan, former First Lady of the United States and dedicated wife to the late President Ronald Reagan. Throughout her life, Nancy’s incredible commitment to her country and her family did not falter, and she will continue to inspire all us to live bravely and selflessly. Nancy Reagan made a monumental impact on our nation, and I know her legacy will live on, just like her husband’s legacy has. Ann and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Reagan family and all those who knew her.”

Another official statement came Sunday afternoon from Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

“I am saddened to hear the news of the passing of Former First Lady Nancy Reagan. May we all take comfort knowing that today, Mrs. Reagan will be reunited with her husband in heaven. She was truly devoted to her husband and her country, and Renee and I send our prayers to her family,” Lopez-Cantera said.

Attorney General Pam Bondi had this to say: “Today our nation lost a great woman who served our country with compassion and grace. Nancy Reagan was a true public servant, dedicating her time to helping the elderly, our veterans and people with disabilities. Her efforts to stop drug abuse impacted an entire generation of American youth, and her legacy will live on through the lives that she touched.”

Other responses have been on social media.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam posted to Facebook: “Former First Lady Nancy Reagan was truly a class act, and as America mourns her death, may we also be grateful for her many contributions to our country.”

Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli tweeted: “Rest in peace, Nancy Reagan. She was an incredible leader for our party and our country.”

Rep. Shawn Harrison tweeted: “Sad news this morning. Nancy Reagan has passed. She was the rock to the Gipper. RIP First Lady.”

State Sen. Thad Altman tweeted: “Prayers for the Reagan Family on the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan.She graced us w/her devotion and love to family and country.”

State Sen. Rob Bradley posted to Facebook Sunday morning along similar lines: “A Nation mourns the passing of a great American. God Bless the Reagan family.”

And State Senator Dorothy Hukill tweeted: “Prayers for the family on the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan.”

Candidates have had their say also.

CD 2 Republican Neal Dunn said, “We are saddened by the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who served as First Lady with great dignity by President Reagan’s side. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Reagan family during this sad time. We can all take comfort in knowing that both Nancy and President Reagan will live on in the hearts and minds of Americans for generations to come. Seldom in our history have we had a President gifted with such wisdom, tenacity and  charismatic leadership.”

Congressional District 6 Republican Brandon Patty: “Nancy Reagan’s unwavering love and support helped make President Reagan the man he was. Her leadership came at a critical time in our country and is still felt today.”

Rebecca Negron, running in House District 18, said that “former First Lady Nancy Reagan will always be remembered for her dedication to her family and her country.  She served alongside her husband, a true conservative, with such grace and passion for the American people.”

Alexander Pantinakis, GOP Committeeman from Duval County, posted a picture of the Reagans, with the poignant message: “Together again. Rest in peace Nancy Reagan.” to Facebook.

State Sen. Tom Lee and state Rep. Richard Corcoran, the Appropriations chairs for the Senate and House respectively, observed a moment of silence for Mrs. Reagan before their Sunday conference meeting.

House lays Seminole Compact failure at feet of Senate

It’s the Florida Senate’s fault that the Seminole Compact wasn’t passed this session, two House leaders said Friday afternoon.

They rejected claims there weren’t enough votes in the House, saying instead there was no point in moving a bill that wasn’t going to be considered across the Capitol Rotunda. (For Friday’s background, click here.)

The Senate gave up on it earlier this week, with President Andy Gardiner saying the compact “will be for another day, and for somebody else to handle.” This is his final  year in office.

“We wanted to keep hope alive, but obviously nothing panned out,” said House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, a Merritt Island Republican. “We figured there was no life in it … as for 2016, it won’t have an opportunity to come back up.”

“It just couldn’t get done in the Senate,” he said. “There wasn’t a compromise opportunity to get it done.”

Gardiner and other Senate leaders weren’t available Friday afternoon because that chamber was still meeting.

State Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Fort Walton Beach Republican who chairs the Finance and Tax Committee, said he believed there were “no fewer than” 80 votes in the 120-member House to pass the re-negotiated agreement. A majority in the House, enough to pass legislation, is 61.

He also feared that now the courts will essentially make gambling policy for the state since several related suits are pending.

The Florida Supreme Court is set to consider a challenge by a Creek Indian-operated racetrack in Gretna that it and pari-mutuels in five other counties can offer slots because voters approved the machines in local referendums.

Competing lawsuits are also before two federal judges.

In one, the Seminoles say the state violated a previous promise of blackjack exclusivity by allowing card games known as player-designated games, similar to some versions of player-banked poker.

The tribe offers blackjack at seven casinos, including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa.

In another suit, the state alleges that the tribe’s current offering of blackjack is technically unauthorized because one part of the previous agreement expired and Seminole blackjack going on now is illegal gambling.

“If we don’t take action, we will surrender the state’s involvement in this critical decision-making,” Gaetz said. “If there is judicial action that deems the state in violation of the Compact, we’ll have the deprivation of revenue, a loss of control on the expansion of gaming … and we look dysfunctional.”

The previous blackjack deal was worth at least $1 billion over five years to the state treasury, though payments usually exceeded $200 million per year. Revenue from the tribe stops without a new deal.

It wasn’t clear whether the new Compact would still go to the U.S. Department of Interior, which oversees Indian gambling, for review and separate approval.

Volunteer Florida, Uber collect 4,000 #SuitsForSession items for job seekers

Tallahassee insiders across Leon County gave local job seekers a big helping hand this week by donating thousands of pieces of professional attire.

In the first-ever #SuitsForSession, Volunteer Florida and Uber collected 4,023 donations Tuesday at both the Capitol and by Uber drivers picking up items across the county free of charge.

Through the project, which asked for donations of gently used, high-quality clothing, volunteers collected 2,751 items for women, 851 articles of men’s clothing and 421 shoes, belts and other items. Uber drivers brought in 10 bags through requests in its ride-sharing app.

Items collected will be distributed to a number of organizations helping job seekers prepare for employment: Dress For Success Tallahassee, the Goodwill Prosperity Center, and the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Blind Services.

Helping out volunteers throughout the day included several of the state’s top political leaders: Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, state agency heads and members of the Legislature. Twelve Gubernatorial Fellows and 10 AmeriCorps members also contributed to the effort.

“Volunteer Florida is overwhelmed by the volume and quality of the donations we received through #SuitsForSession,” Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman said in a statement.

“The people of Tallahassee matched these donations by bringing and sending in their own,” Spellman added. “We are grateful for our partnership with Uber, which made it possible for so many people to give.”

Matt Gore, Uber’s general manager for Florida called #SuitsForSession “a tremendous success.”

“We are proud to have played a part in making the donation of items easy and convenient for Uber users,” Gore said.

Grace Grindler, chairwoman of the Dress for Success Tallahassee Board of Directors, said the overwhelming outpouring of donations will “empower so many economically disadvantaged women attain and retain employment to better their family’s lives with the donated professional attire.”

Suits for session 3 (Large) Suits for session 2 (Large) Suits for session 1 (Large)

State police radio replacement dispute becomes budget conference sticking point

An obscure but heated battle over a state contract potentially worth hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money is at stake as budget conferees continue to hammer out differences between House and Senate proposals.

At issues is the radio equipment law enforcement agents use to communicate. Problems with communication gear have led to the deaths of several officers across the country.

Tucked into the House’s government operations budget proposal is $7 million for a line item that reads “Replacement Of Statewide Law Enforcement Radio Equipment.”

The budget request came from Melbourne Rep. Ritch Workman on behalf of a Washington, D.C.-based government relations director for Harris Corp. Harris holds a state contract to provide law enforcement radio support valued at an estimated $18 million annually.

Critics of the move – including representatives for Motorola Solutions who hope to take over the contract after the current arrangement expires in 2021 – say the $7 million appropriation would unfairly bolster Harris’ grip on the contract. The contract provides that proprietary Harris-made radios fulfill orders for replacements.

The Harris representative named in the request, Glenn Grab, said during the weekend that state officials in agencies such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles tell him they need new radios to replace outdated units, some more than a decade old.

Grab said an equipment “refreshment” before the 2021 contract expiration is only a matter of time. He said guidelines indicate law enforcement radios should be swapped out every seven years. The current 20-year procurement deal was awarded in 2000 under then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

Harris is headquartered in Brevard County, represented in the House by both Workman and Speaker Steve Crisafulli.

Sources familiar with the budget process said the contentious issue is likely to be “bumped up” to appropriations chiefs Rep. Richard Corcoran and Sen. Tom Lee, who are set to take over any unresolved budget issues Monday evening at 6 p.m.

Key senators, including conference committee Vice Chairman Alan Hays and Sen. Jack Latvala, expressed concerns about the line item when it was proposed late in the budget process last year.

Latvala called it “a back-door extension” of the current contract, and said it could jeopardize a planned competitive bidding process set to solicit offers to continue servicing state communications infrastructure needs.

Budget writers approved $800,000 for the Department of Management Service to add staff in preparation of the bid last year.

A state Joint Task Force that administers the state’s radio systems has been careful not to publicly take sides in the battle of vendors, though a DMS study recommended a bid process go forward “as soon as possible.”

A Harris PR rep told reporter Matt Dixon last year that switching vendors after 2021 could lead to nine-figure costs to the state and a possible disruption in service.

Budget conference to begin this weekend

Legislative leaders issued a joint statement on the 2016-17 state budget Thursday night:

Members,

We are pleased with the progress President (Tom) Lee and Chair (Richard) Corcoran (the Senate and House budget chiefs) have made and are optimistic we will be ready to begin the budget conference this weekend.

We will update you as early as possible tomorrow, so you can make the appropriate travel arrangements.

Thank you for your patience as we work through this important process. We look forward to providing you with more information as soon as possible.

President Gardiner and Speaker Crisafulli

Stay tuned for an update Friday morning …

Bob Sparks: Battle over economic incentives features unlikely alliances

Sometimes during legislative sessions some unusual partnerships develop. Unlikely alliances can form to pass or defeat a measure that fits a common goal.

Florida has provided a prime example of such teamwork. The philosophy of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” syndrome has played out in the area of economic incentives.

House Bill 1325, simply titled “Economic Development,” is the cause of back and forth between legislators, as well as between the executive branch and lobbyists. There is bipartisan support for and bipartisan opposition against this contentious bill.

HB 1325 provides, among several other things, that companies wishing to come to Florida and create 150 new jobs and a cumulative investment of $150 million may be eligible for a $3.5 million to $4.5 million grant. A sliding scale for lower impact means a lower grant.

Among the many other provisions are financial incentives for keeping Major League Baseball teams for spring training, and communities dependent on the defense industry, along with many others. It could be rightly known as comprehensive economic incentives reform.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Jim Boyd, repeatedly stated that no state money is committed to incentives. The companies must first keep their pledges before receiving any incentives.

Opponents referred to the bill as corporate welfare. The obligatory comments about giving tax money to “fat cats” entered the dialogue as the vote neared.

The legislation passed the House 79-39 on Wednesday. These numbers roughly reflect the Republican vs. Democrat breakdown of the chamber, but this was far from a party-line vote.

Voting in support was a large majority of Republicans led by Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Majority Leader Dana Young. Voting in opposition was a majority of Democrats led by House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford, who had a prominent conservative ally.

The Koch brothers-supported Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a fierce opponent of this bill. Not one dime, it says, should go to corporations for this purpose.

This did not sit well with Enterprise Florida CEO Bill Johnson, who is representing the interests of his agency and Gov. Rick Scott. He made his views clear.

When Johnson pointed out that Koch Industries has gotten $196 million in government incentives, AFP had a quick retort:

“Newsflash, AFP is not Koch Industries.”

It is a fact the Koch brothers are the bogeymen of Democratic politicians, many times to ridiculous extremes (listen to Harry Reid some time). But when Chris Hudson, the state director of a group supported by the Kochs engages in a food fight with a representative of a Republican administration, their previous actions will receive scrutiny.

Is there some hypocrisy going on? We report, you decide.

While most voted with their party’s majority, some interesting defections make this a must-watch bill in the Senate. While Crisafulli and Young supported the bill, Speaker pro tempore Matt Hudson and Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran were among the 39.

Also voting against the bill, which is supported by Scott, was Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. This is not the first time these two have been on opposite sides. Ingoglia defeated Scott’s preferred candidate, Leslie Dougher, for RPOF chairman 14 months ago.

Not only was Republican leadership split on this bill, so too were the Democrats. Negating Pafford’s “nay” was a “yes” from Democratic Leader pro tempore Mia Jones. Several other Democrats joined with the majority.

Conservatives and liberals voted for the bill while conservatives and liberals voted against the bill. It was Doc Holliday joining the Earps to fight the Clantons at OK Corral. Each side would argue the other personified the Clantons.

While only a few can appreciate the legislative process also known as sausage making, this one is worth watching. It is one of the final pieces of the puzzle that will help determine the 2016-17 state budget.

It will be a fascinating final two weeks.

***

Bob Sparks is a business and political consultant based in Tallahassee. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Rick Scott calls session “successful” – but still hasn’t got what he wants

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday suggested, with as much subtext as he could muster, that lawmakers need to come around on his two main budget goals for 2016-17: $1 billion in tax cuts and $25o million for business incentives.

After all, legislative leadership passed their priority bills early on, which Scott happily signed.

The message was clear: You got yours, I want mine.

“We’ve had a very good Session. It’s all going to be successful,” Scott told reporters after a bill signing in his office.

“We started with the water bill that the Speaker of the House wanted, we started with the Gardiner Scholarship bill for those with unique abilities (named after Senate President Andy Gardiner), those have already been signed,” he said.

“Everyone knows my priorities,” Scott added. “All of them are tied to getting more jobs in our state. The tax cut is important … along with the $250 million for (the Florida Enterprise Fund).

“I believe we’re going to have a good end to Session. And there’s plenty of money in the budget.”

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, in separate comments to reporters, basically said Scott was overspending and asking for too much.

“I’ve said it, the president has said it, even the governor has said it: There has to be compromise on all sides,” he said. “That’s the only way to bring those numbers within a threshold we can obtain.”

As of Wednesday night, House budget chief Richard Corcoran and Senate budget chairman Tom Lee had not announced agreement on allocations, the silos of money for each major part of the state budget.

“We know the governor is very focused on his message,” Crisafulli said. “He’s fighting for as much as he can get, but there’s a reality in all this … Nobody gets everything they want.”

Added Gardiner: “It’s give and take … everybody’s going to have give and take if we want to go home on time.”

The session ends March 11, but the budget has to be finished before then because of a 72-hour “cooling off” period mandated by law, giving lawmakers and the public time to inspect the details.

“He’s going to have vetoes; he’s probably going to have a lot of vetoes,” Gardiner said of Scott after a Wednesday Senate floor session. “If we all sat out and had a big group hug, he’d still have a lot of vetoes … I’m trying to put together what I think is a responsible budget.”


Jim Rosica (jim@floridapolitics.com) covers the Florida Legislature, state agencies and courts from Tallahassee. 

Stand Your Ground bill still in legislative limbo

There were still no definite answers Wednesday on whether the House will consider a Senate-approved change to the state’s Stand Your Ground law.

The Senate bill, backed by state Sen. Rob Bradley, “shifts the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecution” in pretrial hearings on whether a use of force was justifiable, according to a staff analysis.

Those hearings determine whether a defendant can claim self-defense at trial.

The House version died in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee in November on a 6-6 vote. But the Senate bill passed that chamber last month on a 24-12 vote and was redirected to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Jacksonville Republican Charles McBurney.

But the bill wasn’t on the agenda for Thursday, the last scheduled meeting of that committee for the 2016 Legislative Session.

After a Wednesday floor session, McBurney exited the chamber through a side door before reporters could get to him.

Speaker Steve Crisafulli wasn’t able to give any more clarity: “I couldn’t tell you. Chair McBurney has the authority to meet through next week. He’ll be the one to make the decision” to hear the bill.

On Tuesday, he denied reports of pressure from the National Rifle Association to move the bill.

“We are certainly not under pressure,” Crisafulli said. “Members are moving legislation as they see fit.”

House passes incentives measure desired by Rick Scott

After a debate that included mentions of monsters, Robert A. Heinlein and the Tampa Bay Rays, the Florida House of Representatives Wednesday passed its 2016 business and economic incentives package, including the framework for Gov. Rick Scott‘s proposed $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund.

As bill sponsor Jim Boyd reminded members, it still has no funding: “This is a structure bill, a policy bill,” he said, explaining that how much money goes to incentives still must be decided in the budget process. 

The legislation (HB 1325) will provide “more oversight, more control and will foster growth for all businesses throughout Florida,” he told members.

But his measure fractured the usual party-line vote on high-profile measures: Those in favor included members of the Legislative Black Caucus, who had held a closed-door meeting Tuesday after the House first started considering the bill.

Caucus chairman Ed Narain, a Tampa Democrat, did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment after the vote.

Those opposed included dozens of Republicans, including Speaker pro tempore Matt Hudson of Naples, House budget chief Richard Corcoran and state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

In a statement, the governor thanked the House, saying he wants to “protect taxpayer money by ensuring no incentive dollar leaves the state until we have confirmed a company’s economic investment or job creation in Florida.”

The Florida Enterprise Fund “will also diversify our economy at a key time in our state’s history to help guard against another economic downturn, and make Florida first for jobs in the country,” Scott said. “As the legislative process continues, we’ll continue working closely with the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors and Senate and House members on finalizing this legislation.”

State Rep. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat and Black Caucus member, said he supported the bill because the businesses it could help attract may wind up in his district, bringing jobs to many of the depressed areas he represents.

It might also help keep the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, he added, even as the team considers a move to a possible new ballpark in Tampa.

But Rouson also offered a caveat: “I believe in the free market but I don’t believe the free market always believes in me.”

His support and that of his colleagues galled state Rep. Kristin Jacobs, however, who chided the back row about “ghost companies” and their lack of jobs.

“Wake up,” she said. “You’re not going to get the money you think you’re going to get.”

Jacobs, a Coconut Creek Democrat and former Broward County mayor, even compared the measure’s supporters to prostitutes, saying they cut a deal for their votes.

She quoted science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein about “just haggling over the price.” (The quote, by the way, has a complicated history.)

State Rep. Amanda Murphy, a New Port Richey Democrat, apologized to her constituents for the bill, saying the legislative process “makes monsters out of men.”

And Rep. Evan Jenne, a Dania Beach Democrat, called it “a quarter-billion-dollar slush fund” that would only “make a few fat cats that much fatter.”

Even supporters struggled to rise to the same level of histrionics.

“It is not rosy but it is not the status quo, which is what we have had,” said Rep. Charles Van Zant, a Keystone Heights Republican.

He had planned to vote no, but said Boyd had won him over with multiple text messages that included pleas of “you got to support my bill.” 

“And I don’t text,” Van Zant added.

The Senate already committed to the fund, with state Sen. Jack Latvala championing both the idea and the dollar amount, but wants to use money coming from the settlement over the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Legislators are still awaiting an announcement of the 2016-17 “allocations,” the big silos of money available for each major section of the 2016-17 state budget to be worked out by House budget chief Richard Corcoran and Senate budget Chairman Tom Lee. 

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