Central Florida secures millions for roadway expansion, public safety
Orange County hotel tax receipts come roaring back.

From the Sunbridge Parkway to Oviedo, local projects in greater Orlando earned space.

Orlando area lawmakers from both sides of the aisle celebrated budget wins. From cultural grants to public safety facilities, Central Florida scored millions.

“The budget reflects the priorities of the legislators,” said Sen. Geraldine Thompson, chair of the Orange County Legislative Delegation. “I am pleased to see that the needs of my district were prioritized.”

The budget includes nearly $18.4 million for the widening of Old Kings Road and West Orange Trail.

There is another $2 million allotted for the Orlo Vista Integrated Water Resources Project.

A telehealth initiative in Orange County also secured $200,000.

“We secured $875,000 for a public safety facility in Belle Isle and $1,350,000 for water quality improvements alongside arts and culture funding for grants was brought to 67% thanks to Chair (Tom) Leek granting supplemental,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat.This is a strong budget for Central Florida that helps to address multiple community needs including homelessness prevention too.”

Wins reached eastward as well. Rep. Susan Plasencia, an Orlando Republican, celebrated wins in Orange County and a portion of Seminole she also represents.

“I am very proud to have passed all eight of my appropriations bills during this session, bringing $13,240,000 in state funds to our district, including $1 million for the City of Oviedo and $500,000 for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office mobile command unit,” she said. “We also fought for our constituents in need, returning tens of thousands of dollars in benefits. I am proud to serve my community in Seminole and Orange Counties, and I look forward to continuing this work after the regular Session.”

Rep. Carolina Amesty, a Windemere Republican, said her east Orange County district would also benefit from road spending in the budget.

“These funds will help strengthen our local infrastructure and support clean water in our community,” she said. “I have worked hard with my colleagues on the appropriation process and look forward to bringing these much-needed resources to Central Florida.”

Rep. Fred Hawkins, a St. Cloud Republican, said it’s a credit to the legislative team and local advocates. He pointed toward a number of Osceola County wins as well, including $9.95 million for the roadway design for the Sunridge Parkway, $1.8 million for the Buenaventura Lakes Drainage Improvements and $765,000 for a military history museum expansion.

“I knew coming into the Session my team and I had to roll up our sleeves and get to work to meet the many needs of one of the fastest-growing areas of the State,” Hawkins said. “From Valencia College, Sunbridge Parkway, funding for lakes clean up and, most importantly, taking care of children’s needs. I think we hit a home run. So grateful to leadership for listening and their support.”

Rep. Rita Harris, an Orlando Democrat, stressed the region will benefit equally from some of the major programs that made it into the budget. The Legislature wrestled over VISIT FLORIDA but ultimately funded the state tourism bureau.

The Legislature expects to vote on the spending plan Friday and send the budget to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“The biggest budget win for my community is VISIT FLORIDA,” Harris said. “The budget has $80 million to attract tourists into our state, with many of them coming into the Orlando area, where we have world-class attractions, restaurants and resorts. This will help both our local small businesses and the big theme parks.”

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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