Budget conference: FHP driving range kicked to the curb
Florida had three cities in the list of top 30 worst cities with the worst drivers.

The House is still fighting for better computer-assisted dispatch tools for the agency.

Funding no longer seems to be on track for a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) driving range.

The latest offer from the House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee kicks funding to the roadside for a range at FHP’s academy. That’s a change from two days ago, when the House included the trooper training ground in its budget.

But the Senate never got on board with the plan. Now, the House appears to have surrendered on the matter.

The House still has more budgeted in the Highway Safety silo than the Senate. While the Senate has budgeted about $564.7 million in that area, the House wants more than $564.8 million.

The last remaining difference is some $1.15 million the House appropriators still want to increase the use of computer-aided dispatch and records management systems at the Florida Highway Patrol.

The chambers otherwise were already in agreement on most spending involving Florida’s most prominent statewide law enforcement agency.

While the driving range won’t get any extra fuel in the tank this Legislative Session, the Legislature last year came together on funding $10 million for the training facility.

FHP offers a training class using the driving range. Training lasts 28 weeks and covers such high-liability areas as vehicle operations, defensive tactics, first aid and firearms.

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

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.

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 must 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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