‘Freedom First’ budget would continue SLERS payments
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Radio communication service and emergency calls on traffic jam background.
It sets aside $10.6 million for tower lease payments.

Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ budget proposal includes millions in funding to continue the controversial tower lease agreement for the state’s police radio system, but not as much as lawmakers set aside for the current fiscal year.

Lawmakers last Session approved a plan to send $165 million in nonrecurring money to radio company L3Harris to upgrade the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System.

It also authorized $31.5 million a year in funding for the system for the next 15 years. Of that, $19 million will head to the Melbourne-based company to oversee the system and $12.5 million will pay to lease radio towers.

The plan was unveiled late in Session and was something of a surprise — especially for Motorola Solutions, the company that the Department of Management Services selected for the rebuild after a competitive bidding process.

The SLERS upgrade had been mired in the courts for years, partially due to L3Harris holding the rights to the radio towers that serve as the backbone of the system. After Motorola won the contract, L3Harris held the radio towers hostage, bringing the project to a standstill until lawmakers snatched back the contract and handed it to L3Harris.

According to a news release from DMS, DeSantis’ budget proposal for 2022-23 sets aside $10.6 million in payments for “tower relocation, lease agreements, and other efforts to posture DMS’ future updates” to SLERS.

“The safety and security of Florida communities continues to remain a priority for Governor DeSantis throughout his administration,” DMS Secretary Todd Inman said in the news release. “Reliable public safety communication systems allow frontline responders to do their jobs — these critical investments are yet another example of how important it is in Florida to provide first responders with the greatest available resources during an emergency.”

The SLERS money was was one of several bullet points the department highlighted after the Governor rolled out his spending plan Thursday morning, including $30 million to improve cyber security systems.

“Under Governor Ron DeSantis’ leadership, the Florida Digital Service continues to modernize its cybersecurity efforts to protect critical state resources and Floridians’ data,” Chief Information Officer James Grant said. “Cybersecurity is vital to the safety and security of our communities — this funding will help secure Florida’s digital infrastructure against cyber criminals.”

Other items singled out by DMS were $6 million for the planning and design of a new state law enforcement training center, $1.25 million to maintain capacity at the Florida Interoperability Network, $6 million to improve call routing at regional 911 call centers and $5.8 million to continue the transition to a cloud-based eProcurement system.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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