House, Senate proposed budgets include millions for Tampa Bay projects
Tens of millions of dollars for libraries, museums, parks and theaters in Tampa Bay have survived the first cut and are in the initial state budget proposals.
Funding for Lowry Park Zoo, the Florida Aquarium, Blind Pass Road in St. Pete Beach, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg and a new transit study to move people from south Hillsborough to downtown Tampa are all tucked within more than 800 pages of budget documents that passed through House or Senate budget committees this week.
Some of the bigger-ticket items for Tampa Bay are not among the four dozen area projects in the $80 billion budget yet. Like most education construction projects, it will be weeks before the region knows the fate of a $22 million request to move USF's Morsani College of Medicine to downtown Tampa to serve as a key cog of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik's revitalization plan.
While there is no guarantee any listed projects will be in the final state budget, it's a key starting point to keep many of them even at the negotiating table.