Budget conference: Southwest Florida twinkles with sprinkles

Education and water projects earned particularly strong support.

The Southwest Florida region should see a rush of state dollars, especially for water and higher education projects.

In particular, the release of this year’s Senate Supplemental Funding Initiatives — the “sprinkle list” — shows big wins for the area.

A Southwest Florida Regional Emergency Shelter in Babcock Ranch earned an $8 million lift. The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus picked up $5 million in new state dollars for operational support.

With Senate President Bill Galvano enjoying a presiding officer’s role this session, Bradenton scored big in budget battles.

About $1.2 million will help Bradenton Beach with flood control efforts. Easter Seals of Southwest Florida landed nearly $900,000 between capital improvements and education programming.

Manatee Education Television will receive $250,000 to boost its programming. And State College of Florida brought in $750,000 to better fund its nursing program.

But the region saw benefits in all corners.

Budget sprinkles include a $500,000 lift for an Arcadia Boys & Girls Club. Some $600,000 for master planning will help the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens grow in Sarasota.

PACE Center for Girls in Lee County gets a $750,000 win for its programs. A Unique Abilities Center at the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast in Immokalee secured $500,000.

Last year’s algae scares resulted in some money pledges for the area.

That included $700,000 red tide efforts and septic tank mitigation around Naples Bay. Some $2.5 million will go to Northern Everglades and Estuary Protection.

Sarasota County’s Dona Bay Watershed Restoration Project got $1 million in state funding.

Fort Myers saw $1 million flow for a reclaimed water expansion project. Fort Myers Beach enjoyed $500,000 in stormwater improvement money. Another $500,000 will support a drainage project on South Barfield Drive on Marco Island.

And on the logistics infrastructure front but with a distinct environmental angle, Hendry County received a $1 million lift for connecting Airglades Airport and Clewiston’s wastewater treatment plant.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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