Budget conference: House increases OCEARCH facility offer to $5M

ocearch shark
It’s still less than the $7M Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed last year.

The House significantly upped its support for an OCEARCH shark research facility in Mayport in its latest budget offer, but it’s still less than the $7 million Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed last year and the $9 million requested this Session.

The money, up to $5 million in the House’s third offer from an earlier $1.1 million, would go to a cooperative-use multipurpose facility for the organization to do research and education work. The Senate proposed $1 million in its second offer.

“The funding will also provide a new quick-response vessel for marine research and animal rescue,” according to the local funding initiative request by Jacksonville Republican Sen. Clay Yarborough. He asked for $9 million, split between $2.5 million for operations and $6.5 million as a fixed capital outlay.

The proposed $9 million is estimated at 60% of the project’s cost, with a $6 million local match. That match ensures the quick-response vessel would use dock facilities provided by Jacksonville University (JU). The land is owned by the city of Jacksonville and is under a long-term lease to JU.

The money would pass through the Department of Economic Opportunity to JU, which would administer the project. If fully funded, construction would start around June 2024 with an expectation of concluding around December 2025.

Budget conference subcommittees are meeting 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.

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook: facebook.com/wes.wolfe


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704