Florida ranks third in the nation for human trafficking, and two Senators used the upper chamber’s “sprinkle” budget to support the fight against the crimes.
Sprinkle list is the colloquial term for supplemental budgets released by each chamber that are not subject to the same level of budget negotiations as other parts of the state’s budget.
Sen. Joe Gruters has sponsored a line item in the Senate’s supplemental budget for $1 million for programs and services for victims of human trafficking.
The money will go towards operation and programming costs at Selah Freedom, a nonprofit organization with programs based in Florida and the Midwest. The funding will “build resiliency and sustainability of its infrastructure,” according to the funding request.
A little over half of the requested budget would go towards operational and administrative costs including payroll, employee benefits, rent and utilities.
The rest of the money would fund doctor’s visits for victims, safe housing, public education and awareness, outreach to victims on the streets and in jails and youth prevention programs.
If the Senate did not include the line item in the budget, an appropriations request document states the nonprofit would have to fundraise for the money, a challenge because it “has been especially difficult campaigning for donations this year due to the pandemic.”
The Legislature has worked with Selah Freedom in the past. The same program received $1.5 million in the current year’s budget.
Selah Freedom also worked with U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Alcee Hastings in 2019 to craft a $75 million bill to help fight human trafficking.
Sen. Linda Stewart also sponsored an $80,000 request for an Orlando sex trafficking survivors program called The Lifeboat Project.
That project provides life-long trauma-informed services to victims.
Stewart announced the project along with a host of others she sponsored in the Senate’s supplemental budget.
“I am happy to have the opportunity to assist so many wonderful organizations by advocating for these funds that will provide a direct and positive impact in our community. By funding these projects, we’ll help serve many of our most vulnerable populations,” Stewart said in a memo.