Gov. DeSantis axes $21M for downtown St. Pete office to house 2nd District Court of Appeals

budget cuts
The plan fell victim to $1B+ in cuts fueled by a coronavirus-collapsed economy.

Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeals will not get $21 million to begin plans for a new home base.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the allocation Monday as part of his sweeping budget cuts prompted by massive revenue pit falls due to the coronavirus-fueled economic collapse.

Lawmakers approved $21 million to begin plans for a new office, likely in downtown St. Petersburg at the state-owned Sebring Building one Mirror Lake.

The appeals court is currently operating in leased space at a Stetson Law building near downtown Tampa after moving from its previous home in Lakeland due to unsafe air quality conditions at the aging building.

The current lease with Stetson expires in 2023, which would have given the state adequate time to secure a new permanent home.

DeSantis signed the state budget Monday, cutting more than $1 billion from the proposed $93.2 million budget. The cuts were expected, with DeSantis previously saying his budget decisions would be the “veto equivalent of the Red Wedding,” a reference to one of the most infamous episodes of Game of Thrones that say almost an entire family wiped out.

The 2nd DCA was a casualty in that effort, fueled by economic losses to the tune of $1.66 billion, largely driven by massive shortfalls in revenue as tourism all but disappeared in Florida amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project had been lauded not only as a way to find a permanent and more suitable home for the 2nd DCA, but as a potential boon for downtown St. Pete and Mirror Lake.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, whose district is nestled within St. Pete, called the project a “truly once in a multi-generational opportunity,” one that could fundamentally reshape the Mirror Lake area, according to St. Pete Catalyst.

The building was also ideal because it was already state-owned property.

The $21 million would not have paid for the entire project, but would have laid the foundation for a jumping off point and paved the way for future appropriations to get the job done.

Monday’s veto likely delays that process.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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