Budget conference: House offers almost $6M for FHP driving range
All I can say is, wow. Image via FLHSMV.

FHP Best Looking Cruiser
The House now seeks millions more for highway safety funding.

The House’s infrastructure budget now includes funding for a driving range at Florida Highway Patrol’s (FHP) academy.

A budget offer Monday morning includes $5.85 million for the trooper training ground.

The funding is part of a Highway Safety silo in the budget, and the House and Senate remain some millions apart. But the offer Monday from the House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee brings the chambers close together.

The chambers do agree on more than $5.78 million in special projects under the maintenance and repair umbrella of highway safety, but have disagreed on some particulars.

The House offer now includes the funding for the driving range, which has not yet appeared on a Senate budget line.

The chambers came together last year on budgeting $10 million for a driving range for FHP. That was a project requested at the time by the Governor’s Office for a new, innovative range “to provide on-the-road training for high-speed vehicle pursuits in a safe and controlled environment.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports there are 37 driving ranges available in the state of Florida.

The FHP holds a 28-week training program that includes high-liability areas including vehicle operations, defensive tactics, first aid and firearms.

The Governor’s Office requested almost $297.6 million for its total Highway Safety total budget this year, with about $1.7 million going for maintenance and repair projects.

With the new offer, the House now budgets about $570.7 million, more than the Senate’s $567.4 million. But that’s a $10 million increase in that silo from where the House previously stood.

The House also includes almost $3.1 million in other maintenance and repair funding in its budget, while the Senate has $4.79 million in such statewide spending in its budget now.

The House would cover the driving range cost entirely from trusts.

Other areas of disagreement in terms of highway safety funding still exist. The Senate budget includes almost $1.49 million for traffic enforcement with the Central Florida Expressway, as well as $2.25 million for aircraft replacement. The Senate also wants more than $500,000 for a Florida Licensing on Wheels mobile unit.

Budget conference subcommittees will meet throughout the week to resolve differences in each area. When remaining issues reach an impasse, they will be “bumped” to the full budget conference committee. Lawmakers mush reach an agreement on a final spending plan by May 2 to meet the 72-hour “cooling off” period required by the state constitution before they can vote on the budget to avoid pushing the Regular Session past its scheduled May 5 end date.

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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