Nothing will be final until the final gavel drops Friday but the Florida Legislature’s state budget likely will include funding for several Florida Keys projects.
“I think we are in an extremely positive position in terms of budget priorities, especially considering the more than half-a-billion dollars that we had to redirect after we passed the first version of our budget several weeks ago,” state Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) said Tuesday via email.
“We have been able to secure funding for both big-ticket items related to our recovery from Hurricane Irma, as well as funding for our more long-term land acquisition and water quality needs under the Florida Keys Stewardship Act,” Raschein said.
Legislators reopened a draft version of the state’s $87 billion budget to find $400 million or more to increase statewide school safety and mental-health outreach after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County.
Monroe County had requested $20 million to acquire some Keys properties that would be used as building sites for affordable and workforce housing. The Florida House tentatively agreed to the $20 million, but the Florida Senate penciled in $10 million. No final number was set as of Tuesday.
A $15 million allocation for the Keys under the State Apartment Incentive Loan program, which provides low-interest loans to developers of multi-unit projects aimed at moderate- and low-come residents, appears to be locked in.
Building a new emergency operations center planned for Florida Keys Marathon International Airport could receive nearly $6 million in state funding. County officials estimate the structure’s cost at $15 million to withstand major hurricane conditions.
The Monroe County Land Authority is slated to receive $5 million from the state to acquire developable property that could be used for needed housing, or to retire building rights under the state-mandated rate-of-growth ordinance. Sensitive conservation land also is eligible for purchase.
Another $5 million pending under the Florida Keys Stewardship Act could be spent on local canal restoration or wastewater and stormwater projects.
Mote Marine Laboratory on Summerland Key is scheduled to receive $500,000 to help replace outdoor coral-restoration facilities destroyed by Hurricane Irma.
Monroe County’s free pumpout service for anchored liveaboard vessels, created to prevent illegal sewage discharge that harms the marine environment, likely will receive a $227,000 subsidy from the state to protect local waters.
Requests for funding to support school-based health clinics in the Keys and a local nonprofit group for the developmentally challenged residents were pending.
“I am extremely appreciative that the legislature has given favorable consideration to so many of my hurricane-recovery related budget requests this year while also maintaining the state’s commitment to protecting our natural resources,” Raschein said.
The Florida Legislature ends its 2018 session Friday unless extended for additional budget negotiations.
Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206