Last Call for 2.29.24 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

It’s bump o’clock in the Florida Legislature.

With budget conferences wrapping up, there are still scads of unresolved appropriations across budget silos, and it will be up to budget chiefs Rep. Tom Leek and Sen. Doug Broxson — and, ultimately, House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo — to tie up the loose ends.

Here’s your rundown:

Agriculture & Natural Resources/Agriculture, Environment and General Government wrapped up budget conferences millions of dollars apart on several items. One of the largest is facility construction and renovation funding for FDACS — the House offer would set aside $50 million compared to $177 million from the Senate.

The DEP budget is home to another $100 million-plus gap, with each chamber funding a host of projects that are absent in the other chamber’s plan. The chambers are also an ocean apart in funding for Mote Marine Laboratory. The Senate would give the lab $1 million while the House is sitting at $6 million.

Meanwhile, the higher ed list features a $75 million gap in funding for the Workforce Development Capitalization Incentive Grant Program, which the House would ship $100 million while the Senate would fund at $25 million. Another biggie: The Senate wants $62.5 million for the Lastinger Center at UF, more than double the House’s $25 million offer.

In the TED budget, the Job Growth Grant Fund remains a sticking point. The Senate has held firm at $75 million throughout the budget conference process. The House is offering more than it did initially but is still offering $19 million less. 

Still, the chambers did come much closer together on transportation project funding, by offering significant funding for a series of road projects favored by the Senate. In some cases, the House went from not funding a project to overshooting what the Senate preferred.

Follow the latest budget developments on Florida Politics.

Bill Day’s Latest

Evening Reads

—”What is a leap day? All about Feb. 29, on the calendar every 4 years.” via Annabelle Timsit of The Washington Post

—”A look at the politics behind Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s dueling border stops.” via Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times

—”The Supreme Court just made a bad situation far worse” via Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post

Citing ‘black eye’ on justice, Ron DeSantis signs bill to unseal secret Jeffrey Epstein files” via Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald

—“Florida Senate president: DeSantis will veto social media minor ban” via Douglas Soule of the USA Today Network-Florida

—”Florida lawmakers move to prohibit ‘gas station heroin’” via Sam Ogozalek of the Tampa Bay Times

—“The death of decency” via Chris Cillizza of So What

—”Hamas is losing every battle in Gaza. It still thinks it could win the war.” via Marcus Walker, Anat Peled and Summer Said of The Wall Street Journal

—”The pandemic’s ‘ghost architecture’ is still haunting us” via Yasmin Tayag of The Atlantic

Quote of the Day

My understanding is that they are in a really good spot.”

— Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, on the Paul Renner/Ron DeSantis discussion on the social media ban.

Put It on the Tab

Look to your left, then look to your right. If you see one of these people at your happy hour haunt, flag down the bartender and put one of these on your tab. Recipes included, just in case the Cocktail Codex fell into the well.

It appears lawmakers will deliver DeSantis a social media ban bill that will earn his signature. Renner gets a Redux for hammering out the deal with EOG.

How about some Road Sodas for the transpo budget conferees who closed the gap significantly on roads projects? Just kidding. Please don’t do that.

In light of his most recent stunt, we want to recommend the grossest possible cocktail for former Rep. Blackface, but we can’t in good conscience ask anyone to spend a cent on the guy. Not even for a glass of Gallo.

Will Mote Marine Laboratory end up with a $1 million appropriation or a $6 million one? Time will tell, but for now, they could use a round of Ocean Waters.

Breakthrough Insights

Tune In

Messi and Miami host Orlando City

The Sunshine State’s two MLS sides meet for the first time this season on Saturday as Inter Miami hosts Orlando City (4:30 p.m. ET, Fox).

Miami (1-1-0, 4 points) began the season with a 2-0 home win over Real Salt Lake before drawing 1-1 away at LA Galaxy. In the draw in Los Angeles, Lionel Messi scored the equalizer two minutes into stoppage time to earn the point for Miami. It came as part of an exchange with Jordi Alba. The two former Barcelona teammates played give-and-go to set up the goal.

It was the latest thrilling moment authored by Messi who has scored 12 goals in 16 appearances since debuting with the club on July 21.

Orlando City (0-0-1, 1 point) drew 0-0 with Montreal in the season opener on Feb. 24. The club is also playing in the CONCACAF Champions Cup against Canadian Side Cavalry FC. The Lions won 11 of their final 14 games last season and are looking to build on that momentum but they managed only four shots on goal against Montreal and did not threaten much from their nine corner kicks.

On the positive side, Orlando City dominated possession, nearly 60% as Montreal played a conservative shape much of the game. Pedro Gallese made some impressive saves in goal for Orlando City, saving all five Montreal shots on goal.

Also tonight:

6 p.m. — NCAAW: Pittsburgh Panthers @ Miami Hurricanes

7 p.m. — NCAAW: Jacksonville Dolphins @ Stetson Hatters

7 p.m. — NCAAW: Florida Gators @ Alabama Crimson Tide

7 p.m. — Buffalo Sabres @ Tampa Bay Lightning

7 p.m. — Montreal Canadiens @ Florida Panthers

7 p.m. — Utah Jazz @ Orlando Magic

7 p.m. — NCAAW: North Florida Ospreys @ Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

8 p.m. — NCAAW: Florida State Seminoles @ Louisville Cardinals

10 p.m. — Miami Heat @ Denver Nuggets


Last Call is published by Peter Schorsch, assembled and edited by Phil Ammann and Drew Wilson, with contributions from the staff of Florida Politics.

Staff Reports


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.

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