Budget conference: Senate, House split on funding for Palm Beach State College emergency training center

The money would cover an expansion to the school’s Public Safety Training Center that opened in 2013.

Members of the Legislature’s upper and lower chambers haven’t yet agreed on how much, if any, state funding to apportion for a planned Emergency Response Training Center (ERTC) at Palm Beach State College.

The House has suggested covering all the $4.1 million the school asked for this year through appropriation requests Democratic Sen. Lori Berman and Republican Rep. Mike Caruso filed ahead of Session.

The Senate’s offer, as of 7 p.m. Tuesday: Nothing.

In a brief meeting of the Conference Committee on Higher Education Appropriations, neither Senate Co-Chair Keith Perry of Gainesville nor House Co-Chair Jason Shoaf of Port St. Joe mentioned the earmark. And so, the issue remains unresolved.

The requested nonrecurring funds, if cleared, would add to $3 million in one-time set-asides lawmakers approved last year for the project. Florida TaxWatch advised against funding the ERTC the previous year.

The money would go toward expanding Palm Beach State College’s 143,000-square-foot Public Safety Training Center, which opened in 2013, to better educate students and municipal, state and federal first responders for large-scale emergencies and natural disaster relief.

The ERTC, Palm Beach State College personnel wrote, “will improve the quality and frequency of training available to first responders in our local service area and throughout the state of Florida, with a long-term goal of attracting first responders from around the country.”

It would also help pay for expanded course offerings on related subjects and potentially lead to training partnerships with federal agencies.

“Public safety is an ever-evolving topic,” the requests said. “This facility will provide a venue for first responders as well as state and federal teams to prepare and train together. By providing topical advance training, we will protect the public through emergency preparedness as well as appropriate response to emergencies around our state and the nation.”

According to Caruso’s request, county emergency managers have expressed written support for the project, which also has the blessing of CFO and Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis and his staff.

Lobbyist Shawn Foster of Sunrise Consulting Group represented Palm Beach State College in seeking the money.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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

Sign up for Sunburn