TALLAHASSEE — Even in lean times, some Tampa Bay lawmakers have found ways to carve favored projects into spending bills.
The only question, in a year of sharp spending cuts, will the local projects survive negotiations with the other chamber?
Sen. Mike Fasano, the Senate's transportation budget chairman, has set aside $2-million to help complete a regional hurricane shelter in Hudson that will be named after him.
Fasano, R-New Port Richey, also earmarked $1.7-million for a regional hurricane shelter in Hernando County for developmentally disabled people in the Senate's version of the budget.
But there's no money for adding special needs shelter space at the Sun Dome in Tampa, a request of Sen. Victor Crist. The Tampa Republican wanted $7.2-million.
"What we tried to do is look at projects that were existing," Fasano. "What are you looking at me to say here? We only have so many dollars."
But Crist, who is the Senate's criminal justice budget chairman, found money for local groups in his committee's spending bill. The Drug Abuse Coordinating Office in Tampa would receive $600,000 for prevention and treatment programs, for example.
And area lawmakers in both chambers have succeeded in protecting millions of dollars in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties for child protection investigations by sheriffs' offices. One advocate, Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey, said he focused on keeping programs intact, not on new spending.
But other Senate spending plans didn't make the House proposal, making their future uncertain.
For example, Fasano etched $15-million for rehabilitating rental housing in Pasco, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Martin and Orange counties. And he wants commuter rail studied in Tampa Bay. The House spending plan doesn't.
David DeCamp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 224-7263.