The work is not yet finished on this year's state budget, but details about the origins of spending items in the budget are starting to come out.
The Associated Press and the Orlando Sentinel both reported on Tuesday some of the details contained in nearly 600 pages of documents obtained in public record requests from the Florida House. Both stories noted that in a year with a substantial budget surplus legislators are putting in a lot of requests for hometown projects.
The AP story pointed out how the records contained emails, letters and sometimes just a message scrawled on paper and that legislators handed over budget information to committee chairman that came from groups or lobbyists pushing the funding request.
The requests covered all areas with legislators asking for funding from everything from health care services, juvenile justice programs to money for hometown economic development projects.
Many requests did not yield funding, especially if it came from Democrats, while Republicans appeared to have a greater level of success.
Among those were Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island and incoming House speaker.
Crisafulli put in a request to aid the city of Palm Bay for a training facility called "The Range."
The initial ask was for $2.15 million and this was included money for a 'burn building," as well as moving targets, turning targets, a shoot house and a tactical tower. The information shared with a House budget chairman touted the fact that the request was supported by local law-enforcement and the National Rifle Association.
In a hand-written message Crisafulli notes that the $1 million eventually included in the House version of the state's roughly $75 billion budget "will get them started."
Crisafulli and Rep. Tom Goodson both put in a request for "The Field of Dreams," a nearly five acre sporting complex that would be used by children with special needs. It will feature fully rubberized playing surfaces for baseball, soccer and basketball. Facilities will be specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility equipment according to a description of the project given to a House budget committee. The House budget currently has $2 million in it for this project.
Rep. Marlene O'Toole, R-Lady Lake, was successful in getting $200,000 for the Florida Healthy Choices Coalition which wants to teach Florida students about abstinence and "sexual risk avoidance."
The list goes on and on:
Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, requested $43,600 in the budget to rehabilitate the Captain Hendry House, a historic building utilized for social events in the city of LaBelle. The project was funded.
Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, asked for funding for La Feria de las Americas. There is $250,000 in the House budget for Hispanic fair and expo scheduled to be held at Sun Life Stadium.
Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, called money for the Military Museum of South Florida a "top priority for both the Miami Dade Delegation and myself." There is more than $1 million in the House budget for it.
Goodson, R-Titusville, asked for consideration of $50,000 for electronic information signs documenting the Civil Rights movement for the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Foundation. The two were killed when a bomb underneath their bedroom exploded on Christmas Eve in 1951. The request was granted.
Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, asked for financial help in relocating a lighthouse at Cape San Blas. The budget includes $200,000 for the project.
Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, asked for $750,000 for an economic development program housed at Bethune-Cookman University. The House included the full amount for the BCC "Entrepreneurship Institute" in two separate line-items.
Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, asked for $4 million for Agenda 2020 in St. Petersburg. The House budget includes $975,000.