When 99 of the 113 Republican state legislators endorsed Gov. Ron DeSantis for president last week, two of the 14 holdouts were from the Tampa Bay area — Sen. Ed Hooper of Palm Harbor and Rep. Mike Beltran of Riverview.
Will that affect appropriations for local projects?
Tallahassee insiders say DeSantis intensely recruited legislators, responding to Donald Trump’s endorsements from 10 of Florida’s 20 GOP U.S. House members. In response, Trump last week accused DeSantis of “terrorizing” legislators into backing him by threatening to veto spending projects in their districts.
Beltran filed only one such request this year, $250,000 for a local technology training program.
But Hooper, chairperson of a key appropriations committee, who represents northern Pinellas and southwestern Pasco counties, placed scores of millions in district projects in the budget, which is now awaiting DeSantis’ signature or line-item vetoes.
They range from $30.8 million for Kirkland Ranch preservation land acquisition to $825,000 for the Penny Lane Beatles Museum in Clearwater. Also included are $5 million for road improvements for a new Moffitt Cancer Center campus in Pasco; $3.6 million for storm-hardening a Pasco Sheriff’s Office emergency operations center; $2 million for Pasco-Pinellas Habitat for Humanity; $2.5 million for improvements at Tampa Bay Water’s Morris Bridge Wellfield, and many more.
Beltran couldn’t be reached for comment. Hooper said only that he is “waiting until an official announcement before I consider any endorsement.”
DeSantis is expected to announce his candidacy this week.