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Extending Spending Spree, Scott Asks for $200 Million Increase For Roads, Bridges and Ports

| January 14, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott proposes to spend $200 million more than last year on infrastructure in the state. He announced the proposal at the Jacksonville port Monday. (Jaxport)

Gov. Rick Scott proposes to spend $200 million more than last year on infrastructure in the state. He announced the proposal at the Jacksonville port Monday. (Jaxport)

Gov. Rick Scott will ask lawmakers to increase funding to $8.8 billion for roads, bridges, ports and other transit needs in Florida as he continues to slowly roll out different aspects of his budget plan for next year.

Scott said Monday his “record” transportation funding proposal, $200 million more than in the current year, will further spur economic development and create jobs.

“When I came in, I said how do you get this economy growing?” Scott said during an appearance at the Jacksonville port, known as JAXPORT. “Tourism will do it, but the other thing was that we have to focus on building things.”

On Friday, Scott — who entered office in 2011 slashing a state budget he said was weighted down with “short-sided, frivolous, wasteful” projects — announced he will seek $100 million for the state’s tourism arm, Visit Florida, an increase of $35 million from the current year.

The proposal for the Department of Transportation on Monday includes $138 million for seaport improvements, $3.8 billion for road construction, $192 million for bridge maintenance, $134 million for safety initiatives, and $90 million to bridge a 2.6-mile section of the Tamiami Trail west of Miami to improve the southern flow of the Florida Everglades.

Scott will be in Miami on Tuesday to announce a funding proposal for the Department of Children and Families.

The funding requests will be included in Scott’s overall annual budget proposal, which will be sent to the Legislature before the 2014 session starts in March.

“This investment will enable our state to remain competitive for many years to come,” Scott said of his transportation proposal.

The Tamiami Trail project has been included in an ambitious $220 million Senate effort to redirect water and reduce pollutants out of Lake Okeechobee.

Ports funding has been a priority for Scott since taking office, with more than $640 million directed toward expanding the state’s 15 seaports since 2011. The focus, backed by state business groups, has been to make Florida a global shipping hub as the widening of the Panama Canal is expected to be completed in 2015.

“It’s not if but when Florida becomes the trade gateway to America,” FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said.

Scott and lawmakers this year are heading into the budget-building process with a potential surplus of $1 billion.

Scott, who is up for re-election in the fall, has also asked lawmakers to slash $500 million in fees and taxes.

While detailed breakdowns, including most costs, are expected when Scott releases his overall budget proposal, the transportation projects Scott and Prasad highlighted include:

— Work on the Blount Island Marine Terminal at the Jacksonville port to increase operations and handle larger cargo.

— Expanding Interstate-75 to six lanes south of Georgia.

— Improving the interchange of I-75 and Florida’s Turnpike at Wildwood.

— The Homestead extension of Florida’s Turnpike.

— Improving the interchanges of Interstate 4, Interstate 95 and U.S. 92 as part of a revamping of the Daytona International Speedway corridor.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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11 Responses for “Extending Spending Spree, Scott Asks for $200 Million Increase For Roads, Bridges and Ports”

  1. Joey Paparazzi says:

    He might have a chance to run in New Jersey. He’s finished in Florida – good riddance!

  2. A.S.F. says:

    Say, didn’t Scott previously refuse government funds for an expansion of transportation lines that would have connected and serviced different points within Florida? Didn’t he make a big deal about how his decision to do that was to emphasize how fiscally responsible HE was and how wasteful the big bad government is? What a hypocrite!

  3. Diana L says:

    I am doing everything I can to assure we call him Former Gov Scott next year.

  4. Sherry Epley says:

    First our horrible governor refuses billions of federal tax dollars for public transportation (rail) services, then he refuses billions more to expand Medicaid. He slashes the budget for food stamps and better public education. All the while touting how his administration is fiscally responsible.

    BUT Now, suddenly he throws $$$$$ to repairing/building new road and bridges. . . while pandering to the big oil companies. Where in the world is he suddenly getting all this money????

    This short sighted, heartless man needs to be voted out of office!

  5. Paul Anderson says:

    Scott is on target and making the right decisions. Infrastructure is the key to the state’s economic productivity and success. The funds will also employ thousands of working men and women. Money well spent and not squandered as the federal government always does.

    Good job governor Scott!

  6. A.S.F. says:

    In other words, when a democratic run government proposes that we spend tax dollars to maintain and improve our infrastructure, it is BAD, EVIL, WASTEFUL, SOCIALIST, COMMUNIST (fill in the blank )…But when a Republican proposes or votes for the same, he/she is a true patriot doing a dandy job of governing. That’s a pretty convenient (albeit totally slanted) way of looking at things.

  7. Brian Larson says:

    How bout food , housing and healthcare for the needy the republicans displaced with their wars you heartless excuse fora human being

  8. Outsider says:

    Why is it that when a Republican allocates money for infrastructure it’s referred to as a “spending spree,” but Democrats can blow money on whatever they want and it’s called “investments in our future.”

    • A.S.F. says:

      @Outsider says–I think it’s pretty much the other way around. Governor Scott not only previously rejected available federal dollars for infrastructure improvements in Florida, he did so loudly, proudly and in a way that was obviously geared towards generating applause from his Tea Party fan base. But, strangely enough, he sees nothing wrong with using state funding to do accomplish the same goals, at a time when such a move might generate popularity (and votes) for him personally from that same group that suffers from a permament case of political amnesia. Well, maybe there ARE other reasons for Scott’s sudden interest in Florida infrastructure improvements…and maybe they have to do with political fund contributors or other special interest groups..

    • Ben Dover says:

      Outsider because Democrates dont shut down the government in a tantrum over losing bribe money Obama care took from them , like the pre existing loophole they`ve got paid handsomely for for decades , millions died cause they could afford care or meds without insurance , but they got their 2.9 billion , Boehner came out of shut down pumping his fist , yeah baby bonus time again they been taking illegal bribes so long they don t consider it breaking the law anymore its a bonus, mean while when these slugs were not working screwing the working class gas prices dropped everyday they weren t there , but soon as their thieving asses got back to work the gas went right back up , you people are just too stupid or racist to see it

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