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Lawmakers now considering $82.3 billion state budget

Florida legislators will vote later this week on an $82.3 billion budget.

The proposed budget was formally delivered to state lawmakers at 2:53 Tuesday afternoon. That clears the way for legislators to take a final vote on Friday.

State law requires that the budget must be finished 72 hours ahead of the vote.

Top House and Senate Republicans reached a final deal on the budget late Monday. It will cover spending during the budget year that starts on July 1.

Lawmakers wound up rejecting several of Gov. Rick Scott‘s budget priorities, including his push for $250 million to lure new companies to the state. It has led to speculation that Scott will use his veto pen to eliminate spending on projects pushed by top legislators.


We’ll add to this story with budget facts, tidbits, and other developments through the afternoon.

• • •

The Senate’s summary of the proposed budget is here.

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The Southwest Florida Collier County Business Accelerator is once again funded in the 2016-17 budget. Lawmakers set aside $2 million for the accelerators in the state budget.

Scott vetoed a request to roll over money Collier received for its accelerators in the 2014-15 budget. In 2014, Scott approved the money for two accelerators — one in Immokalee and on in Naples. The money was only good for one year, but the county couldn’t complete the project for a variety of reasons in the one-year time frame.

The budget also sets aside $105,000 for the Collier County Veterans Treatment Court to divert veterans with mental health and substance abuse treatment needs from the criminal justice system. The money will be used for an outreach worker, a case manager and the Veterans Helping Veterans mentor program at the David Lawrence Center in Naples.

Lawmakers also included $450,000 for Florida State University College of Medicine’s Immokalee health education site. In 2007, the college entered into an agreement with the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida to provide medical education and health care services in Immokalee.

• • •

Some allocations for Jacksonville and Northeast Florida projects will be of local interest in the newly released budget. Everyone mentioned here is a winner … albeit maybe not as much as they wanted … pending the gubernatorial veto pen, at least.

Coming out a winner: programs to help those in Jacksonville who need it the most.

One victory for Mayor Lenny Curry with a particular focus on at-risk children and their neighborhoods is $900,000 in nonrecurring general revenue funds allocated for the Jacksonville Re-entry Center (JREC), a program within the Jacksonville Journey that helps convicts reestablish themselves. About $1.2 million in recurring general revenue funds and $250,000 in nonrecurring general revenue funds are provided for Operation New Hope’s Ready4Work re-entry initiative, which also helps with re-entry for reformed convicts in Duval, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns Counties.

Jacksonville will also get a piece of the $750,000 Florida HIRE pilot program, which will prepare up to 5,000 inmates with the skills they need to succeed once out of jail. Orange County and the Tampa/Bradenton area also get a cut.

Along similar lines, $250,000 went to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for Community Oriented Policing Services for the purpose of deploying new law enforcement officers in crime and gang hot spots. And $100,000 in nonrecurring general revenue funds is provided for the Children of Inmates program to support children of incarcerated inmates in Duval County.

Along Journey lines, $500,000 from the General Revenue Fund is provided for Guiding Stars of Duval County, which provides child care and early learning services of various types, including rating child care centers. The Duval Child Guidance Center, meanwhile, got $750,000 for services for at-risk youth and young adults aged 11 to 21. And $100,000 is provided for the Wayman Community Development At-Risk Services Program, helping at-risk youth and their families in the highest juvenile crime areas in Duval County.

Good news was in the budget for St. Johns River Ferry advocates, who have $1 million more to work with from Tallahassee … assuming it’s approved by the governor.

Charles McBurney got his $1 million request for the USS Adams Museum, intended to be a downtown showplace during Jacksonville’s urban rebirth. And $1 million went to the Sulzbacher Center for Women in Jacksonville. It doesn’t appear it got the money wanted for a new facility though. About $200,000 did go to Gateway Community Services for the construction and renovation of buildings and patient rooms, however.

The Downtown Investment Authority got $1 million for an urban homesteading pilot program. One of the DIA’s beliefs is that neighborhoods in the urban core can be made viable, and population density is the key to more free market capital investment for residential purposes downtown.

The University of North Florida has been allocated $11 million for a STEM Lab at Skinner Jones Hall South. Jacksonville University, meanwhile, got $2 million for EPIC, money that didn’t work out in 2015.

About $2 million was also provided to the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center of Jacksonville to fund an endowed cancer research chair.

Good news for Gary Chartrand: Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) of Jacksonville got $1.2 million

WJCT, Jacksonville’s public broadcasting station, was allocated $97,555 to update elevators to include Fire Department controls.

About $500,000 went to the Moncrief Dinsmore Road Bridge Replacement, a priority of Lake Ray. Ray, termed out this year, got $300,000 of the $900,000 he wanted for the Beaver Street Enterprise Center. The money will be matched by other public and private sources, and will help “minority-owned businesses and core-city residents seeking job skills and job placement assistance” in that beleaguered Jacksonville neighborhood.

Outside of Jacksonville, Nassau County got $1.5 million for the widening of Old Dixie Highway.

• • •

Could fewer interruptions to your favorite WGCU radio and television shows be on the way?

The state budget includes $1.79 million to replace the transmission tower at the Fort Myers public television and radio station. The station is one of three public broadcast stations across the state to receive funding to correct health and safety issues.

The budget also includes $1.25 million to replace the HVAC system at WQCS-FM in Fort Pierce and $97,555 to update elevators at WJCT-TV/FM in Jacksonville. Those elevator updates would include fire department controls.

• • •

Improvements could be coming to Florida Southwestern State College’s Collier County campus.

The state budget includes $8 million to replace the external foam insulation system on the Collier campus. The budget also includes $536,949 to make repairs and renovations to Building 5 on the Collier campus.

The budget also sets aside $3.85 million for Florida Gulf Coast University for its Integrated Watershed and Coastal Studies building.

• • •

An $1 million appropriation for the historic, downtown Tampa Theatre that was vetoed last year is back in the budget this year.

The 89-year-old theater needs help replacing infrastructure, including updating the electrical system, with parts dating to the 1920s.

Lobbyist Ron Pierce of Tampa’s RSA Consulting Group worked on the appropriation both years.

Jill Witecki, the theater’s marketing and community relations director, told The Tampa Tribune last year that the state money is part of an overall capital campaign and is “one small part of what is needed to restore the building.”

The big ask for the Hillsborough County legislative delegation was announced on Sunday night, when lawmakers agreed to provide $22.5 million in funds for the USF Morsani College of Medicine in downtown Tampa.

Other major projects to receive funding in the budget released on Tuesday include

There’s $1 million for the Tampa Innovation Alliance led by former Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe.

Here are other notable requests by the Hillsborough and Pinellas delegations:

The Hillsborough County Homeless Initiative $800,000

Tampa Heights Youth Civic Center relocation $1.2 million

St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District $300,000

Veterans Memorial Park in Hillsborough County $1.5 million
Ruth Eckerd Hall will get $2 million for an expansion

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium Dolphin Pool construction $1 million

Dunedin Museum expansion $395,000

The Diversity Initiative in Tampa $100,000

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church Restoration -$340,967

CDC of Tampa getting $100,000

My Children’s Keeper targeting fatherlessness and youth gun violence in St. Petersburg – $250,000

The Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of   South Florida is getting $225,000 to conduct a study evaluating State of   Florida infrastructure needed to support various alternative vehicle technologies including electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The study will provide an overview of the current state of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technologies in the U.S. and Florida.

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