Beef Ads, Dolphin Pools, Farm Aid and Rodeos: Florida Lawmakers’ Pork Projects
FlaglerLive | February 15, 2016
From muck removal to paying for a dolphin pool or beef advertising, the House and Senate have a lot to hash out as they negotiate a roughly $80 billion spending plan for next year.
The Senate last week approved a package (SB 2500) that stands at $80.97 billion, while the House’s spending plan (HB 5001) comes in at $79.98 billion.
As the two chambers work out the differences, attention will focus on how much will be spent on areas such as education and the environment and on whether Gov. Rick Scott gets all of his requested $1 billion in tax cuts and $250 million for economic-development incentives.
But the two 400-plus-page budget plans are filled with specific items for local groups, parks, theaters and museums that may be minor in the overall proposals but important to someone, including to lawmakers who want to take home money for projects and programs.
Here are examples of some of the differences:
HERE’S THE BEEF
The Senate wants to kick in $7.86 million for agriculture promotion, which would be separate from issues both chambers are supporting, such as $150,000 that alligator farmers put up for alligator marketing.
The House has $12.61 million slated for the state agriculture promotional campaign, of which $2 million would expand uses of beef and beef products and strengthen the market position of Florida’s cattle industry in the state and nationally.
The impact of citrus greening disease on the orange and grapefruit industry gets most of the attention and state funding. Meanwhile, the redbay ambrosia beetle is spreading a fungus that is killing avocado trees. To combat the beetle, the House is putting up $150,000 to remove and destroy infested avocado trees acting as hosts and breeding factories for pests and disease. The Senate has budgeted $500,000.
The House wants to spread $4.3 million in local-government grants to a number of agricultural promotion and education facilities, including $670,000 for the Central Florida Fair; $500,000 for the Hendry County Fair and Livestock Show; $450,000 for the Manatee River Fair Association; and $400,000 to the Walton County Fair Association. The Senate has countered by setting aside $500,000 for such grants, without naming who would get the cash other than to say that up to 10 percent of the money may be used for administrative costs for the Florida Horse Park in Ocala.
While both the House and Senate plan to direct $80 million to Visit Florida, the state’s public-private tourism agency, the House is offering $1.8 million for Visit Florida to contract with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to craft an in-state tourism campaign. The Senate is offering $2 million for the marketing contract with the Tallahassee-based hospitality trade association.
The House is proposing $15.76 million for cultural and museum grants, with direction that $600,000 go to the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum in Titusville and $600,000 for the Florida Orchestra residency program.
The Senate plan includes $15.7 million for such grants, designating some of the money for South Florida organizations, including the Spady Museum, $20,000, and Adrienne Arsht Center performing arts program, $65,000.
MORE FLORIDA CULTURE
In another budget line specifying local-government grants for cultural facilities, the Senate is proposing $1 million to both the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach and the Tampa Theatre facility master plan. The House has countered with $150,000 for the Norton and $500,000 for the Tampa Theatre.
The Senate also would put up $1 million to help construct a dolphin pool at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, $175,000 for the New Smyrna Beach East Coast Surf Museum and $395,000 for the expansion of the Dunedin Museum.
The House wants to use some of the money for the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, $250,000; the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, $150,000; the USS Adams Museum in Jacksonville, $125,000; the Orlando Science Center, $200,000; the Military Museum of South Florida in Miami-Dade County, $250,000; the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, $100,000; and the African Museum of Arts and Culture in Miami Gardens, $110,000.
The House is proposing $21.5 million for Brevard County to remove muck from the central and northern Indian River Lagoon and the Banana River. As part of the funding, Brevard County would have to put up $1.5 million for the Indian River Lagoon Research Institute at Florida Institute of Technology to assess environmental benefits from the project. The muck removal and study are not outlined in the Senate plan.
With the oyster industry struggling in Northwest Florida, the House has set aside $560,000 to plant oysters and $250,000 for oyster cultch material research at the Wakulla Environmental Institute to determine which material is most effective for oyster population revitalization. The Senate is pitching $5.2 million for the oyster planting.
The House has put up $1.8 million for new technologies to complement the hand removal of tires from the Osborne Reef off Broward County, where tires had been put in the ocean in the hope of creating new fish habitat. The money will also go to a study on the environmental benefits of the tire removal program. The Senate is offering $900,000 for the removal of the tires.
Both the House and Senate have allocated $750,000 for boat ramp maintenance. The House, unlike the Senate, directs the money to two projects: the Lauderdale Lakes water pollutant reduction boat ramp system, $250,000; and the Niceville public landing and bayou restoration access facility, $500,000.
As part of an outlay for traffic-engineering consultants, the House is proposing $1.5 million for the continued development of multi-level fog monitoring stations.
RIVERWALKS AND RODEOS
Under community development, the Senate has put up $1 million for the Bradenton Tournament Sports Park, while the House has offered $125,000.
The Senate has also proposed $100,000 for the Bergeron Rodeo Arena refurbishment in Davie. The House has $250,000 listed for Hendry County Fairgrounds Rodeo Complex renovations.
The House also has $33,000 going to large dog kennels and dog runs for the Humane Society in Brevard County and $3 million for the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse parking structure.
The Senate is listing $1 million for the Brevard Zoo, $500,000 for the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex pool refurbishment, $198,048 for the Milton Riverwalk and $250,000 for the Port St. Lucie Riverwalk Boardwalk extension.
–Jim Turnere, News Service of Florida