State Rep. Holly Raschein is pushing a half-dozen appropriation requests mostly targeting areas in the Florida Keys.
But the largest funding request of the bunch (HB 2737) would have an impact far beyond Monroe County. Raschein — who represents House District 120, which covers the Florida Keys — is asking lawmakers for $1 million to support the University of Miami Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).
CFAR was given $850,000 in nonrecurring general revenue funds in the 2019-20 budget signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in June. Raschein is asking for an extra $150,000 in nonrecurring funds for the 2020-21 budget.
In 2017, Florida had the third-highest rate of new HIV diagnoses. According to Science Magazine, Miami had the highest per capita rate of new infections of any American city in 2016. Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Jacksonville, all were in the top 10 as well.
The UM research center is aimed at helping study the disease with the hope of finding a cure. It also receives funding from the National Institutes of Health. The United Nations has set a goal of eliminating AIDS by 2030.
Raschein is also requesting a series of appropriations projects aimed at the Florida Keys. One bill (HB 2733) would seek $250,000 to digitize and archive state-owned historic documents stored at the Harry S. Truman Little White House in Key West.
The building served as the so-called “Winter White House” for President Truman and now operates as a museum.
Another measure (HB 2741) includes a $500,000 ask for the Florida Keys Area Health Education Center. The funding would aim to help the center provide service for medically vulnerable children in the area. In 2019-20, a total of $200,000 in funding was made available to the center.
The money would be used “[t]o address gaps in prenatal and postpartum services for families in Monroe County caused/exacerbated by the drastically changing economy in the Keys, extremely high cost of living, lack of health care facilities and providers, and limited learning opportunities for families with children ages 0-5,” according to the funding request.
Another bill (HB 2731) seeks $460,363 in compensation for two Monroe County property owners whose property rights were found to be violated by a judge. Those judgments were paid out by Monroe County. Raschein is now asking the state to pay 50 percent of those costs.
Finally, Raschein wants $250,000 for the Female Offender Employment, Entrepreneurship and Housing Initiative (HB 2735). That program is designed to help women transitioning out of prison find work as a way to reduce the likelihood they will return to committing crimes.
The funding inquiries will be debated during the upcoming 2020 Legislative Session, as lawmakers wrangle over the final budget. That document will then be submitted to the Governor, who has the power to veto individual projects at his discretion.