Small details fill big Florida budget
TALLAHASSEE --- Florida lawmakers this month passed a record $117 billion budget that covers more than 500 pages and includes high-profile issues such as money for schools, health care, environmental projects and road construction.
But also tucked inside the spending plan are more than 1,500 projects pushed by individual lawmakers and fine print that details how tax dollars must be used. The budget, which will take effect July 1, still needs approval from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has line-item veto power.
Here are examples of some of the details included in the budget:
--- $8 million for the Florida State University Institute for Politics to implement “an online accurately depicted statewide history program adhering to all state standards.”
--- $6 million to design and plan “a new state office building and parking garage” at the Capital Circle Office Complex in Leon County.
--- $3.35 million to expand efforts to remove Burmese pythons and other non-native fish and wildlife. The money also would go to “research and to assess risk and the efficacy of control efforts.”
--- $2 million for the Cattle Enhancement Board to expand uses of Florida beef and to market the state’s cattle industry.
--- $2 million to replace the Elliot Building across Monroe Street from the Capitol with “Memorial Park.”
--- $1.75 million for a meat-processing and training facility in Newberry. A funding request by Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, and Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, said the purpose is “to serve small cattle, pig, sheep and goat ranchers within a 100-mile radius. It will also provide high-skill workforce training in butchery and other value-added meat processes in coordination with UF/IFAS and Santa Fe College.”
--- $1 million for the Florida Department of Health to study “the long-term health impacts of exposure to blue green algae and red tide toxins to residents, visitors and those occupationally exposed in Florida.”
--- $1 million for the Department of Children and Families to establish a pilot digital media campaign to recruit foster parents and guardian ad litem volunteers.
--- $1 million for an in-state tourism marketing campaign by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
--- $1 million to support aerospace and life-science projects tied to a memorandum of understanding between Space Florida and Israel.
--- $500,000 to assess the progress of tire removal at Osborne Reef, an area off Broward County where millions of used tires were sunk starting in the 1970s as part of an artificial-reef project. The budget also requires development of a plan for when the “debris is removed from the reef.”
--- $250,000 to improve signs along equestrian trails and another $100,000 on a website to promote those trails in places such as state parks, state forests, wildlife management areas, national forests, wildlife refuges and greenways.
--- $300,000 for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to study the impacts of spraying herbicides on wildlife habitat in Lake Okeechobee. “The study should compare spraying versus mechanical harvesting as to the effectiveness of habitat management and the effects on wildlife, including fish and bird populations,” the budget says.
--- $250,000 to provide $50 bonuses to International Baccalaureate teachers for each student they teach who received scores of "C" or higher on an International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge subject examination.
--- $150,000 for Florida State University to create the Center for Rare Earths, Critical Minerals, and Industrial Byproducts within the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. It would evaluate Florida’s potential to produce “rare earths, critical minerals, and industrial byproducts for national security, supply-chain independence, meeting state infrastructure needs, supporting emerging industries, and other beneficial uses.”