The Ludlam Trail, The Underline, Florida International University and Miami Dade Community College all appear to be big winners in a $82.4 billion budget plan the Florida Legislature is expected to pass Monday.
When state lawmakers rolled out the 451-page budget late Friday, it included hundreds of millions of dollars of local projects. While the list of projects is shorter than in years past, thanks largely to the Florida House and its leader’s attempt to enact reforms to clamp down on the spending, there are still plenty of projects for Miami lawmakers to celebrate back home — for now.
“We did really good in this budget,” said Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami.
Maybe the biggest victory was scoring $5 million each for the two long, park-like cycling and walking trails through Miami. The 6-mile Ludlam Trail Project and the 10-mile Underline project are both in the budget helping keep momentum going on both projects, Diaz said.
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“You will have real connectivity from downtown to or around Coconut Grove,” Diaz said.
FIU is another big winner, receiving $10 million to expand its college of engineering. When Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, put in the initial request for the school he asked for just $3.5 million. The Senate pitched $5.5 million. But when the final budget was printed late Friday it has $10 million for the project.
That money is addition to another $15 million in the budget for FIU’s school of international and public affairs.
“FIU did as well as any university in the state,” Diaz said of the budget.
Other big projects in the budget:
▪ $10 million for Miami-Dade Community College renovation projects.
▪ $12 million for the city of Miami Gardens Pedestrian Improvements.
▪ $2 million for Nova Southeastern University’s osteopathic medicine optometry and nursing programs.
▪ $1.5 million for Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project.
▪ $1 million for Zoo Miami to expand and renovate its animal hospital.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, touted this year’s process for working projects into the budget as the most transparent in years. He instituted reforms this year to assure every project had paperwork filed to explain what it did and who was sponsoring it. That is a departure from past years, when funding often showed up in the dead of night with no explanations.
“There were no last-minute entrants into the budget on a back of a napkin,” Corcoran said of this year’s improved process.
While House and Senate leaders have fought to better justify hundreds of millions of dollars in local projects, there are still headscratchers. State taxpayers will pay millions for local museums, sports complexes, libraries and monuments. For instance, Pensacola won $100,000 to build a statue of a Spanish sailor — Bernando de Galvez — who defeated the British in 1781 in a battle in that city. Sarasota won $1 million for a circus conservatory and another $2.5 million for a rowing park. And taxpayers are building fire stations for local governments in places like East Palatka, LaBelle and Wakulla County.
While getting anything in the budget is a relief for many groups, the deal is hardly finished. Gov. Rick Scott, upset with the Legislature’s refusal to fund his biggest priorities has vowed to scrutinize the budget when he gets its. He has the option to veto the entire budget or go line-by-line through the budget to veto individual projects as he has done in each of his six years in office.
“But what I do every year is I go through [the budget] and say what’s good for our Florida families,” Scott told reporters in Tampa last week when asked if he plans to veto the budget and local projects. “I represent everybody in the state, so I’m going to do what’s best for every family in the state.”
The proposed $82.4 billion contains dozens of South Florida projects. Here’s a list of many of them:
▪ Florida International University: $10 million for Engineering Building; $15 million for the School of International and and Public Affairs; $500,000 for the Center for Democracy; $1 million for the Center of Ethics and Professionalism; $250,000 for the Center for Leadership; $3.9 million for FIUnique; $300,000 for Washington Center for Internships; $5 million for UP:LIFT program; $1 million for Hazardous Substance Mitigation
▪ Miami Dade College: $10.4 million for remodeling and renovation of classrooms and a gym.
▪ City of Hialeah Educational Academy: $1.8 million.
▪ University of Miami Institute for Cuban American Studies program: $400,000.
▪ Nova Southeastern University: $2 million for Osteopathic Medicine Optometry and nursing programs.
▪ Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Center Child Care Program: $57,080.
▪ Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Center Home Health Care Programs: $150,000.
▪ Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Center: $335,000.
▪ Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach: $230,000.
▪ Lauren’s Kids: $1.5 million.
▪ Mourning Family Foundation: $500,000.
▪ Performing Arts Auditorium at Zelda Glazer: $142,700.
▪ Breakthrough Miami: $500,000.
▪ Broward Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training: $200,000.
▪ City of Hialeah Elder Meals Program: $250,000.
▪ City of Sweetwater Elder Care Meals Programs: $418,000
▪ Miami Beach Senior Center: $158,000.
▪ Aging and Disabilities Resource Center of Broward County: $681,000
▪ West Miami Community Center: $69,000.
▪ Areawide Council on Aging of Broward County: $167,000.
▪ City of Hialeah Gardens Hot lunch program: $245,000.
▪ North Miami Foundation for Senior Citizen Services Inc.: $50,000
▪ Hialeah Gardens Elderly: $46,468.
▪ City of Hialeah Meals Program: $1.2 million.
▪ North Miami Foundation for Senior Citizens Services: $1 million
▪ Sheriff’s Foundation of Broward County for bomb squad rapid response vehicle: $163,000
▪ Citizens Crime Watch Board of Miami-Dade County: $100,000
▪ Lauderdale Lakes Innovation Crime Reduction Project: $300,000.
▪ Miami Police Departments Advance Crime Reporting and Analytics App.: $700,000.
▪ Foreclosure and credit assistance program for Miami-Dade: $75,000.
▪ Urban League of Broward County: $3.2 million.
▪ Haitian Lawyers Association to assist Creole speaking residents: $45,000.
▪ Cuban American Bar Association Pro Bono Project: $100,000.
▪ Miami International Agriculture Horse and Cattle Show promotional activities: $99,000
▪ Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project: $1.5 million.
▪ Miami Stormwater Master Plan: $1.1 million.
▪ City of Sunrise Sawgrass Wastewater Treatment Plant: $500,000.
▪ City of Sweetwater Stormwater Improvements: $225,000.
▪ Coconut Creek Wastewater Conveyance System: $150,000.
▪ Cutler Bay Saga Bay Water Quality Improvements: $165,000.
▪ Dade City Stormwater Retrofit: $1.4 million.
▪ Doral Stormwater Improvements. $461,000.
▪ Hialeah Gardens Central District Drainage Improvements: $1.2 million.
▪ Homestead Pump Station and Plant Construction: $450,000.
▪ Lauderdale Lakes Stormwater Conveyance and Water Quality Improvements: $250,000.
▪ Miami Gardens water projects: $450,000.
▪ Miami Lakes Canal Bank Stabilization: $1 million.
▪ Miami Springs Erosion Control: $500,000.
▪ Pembroke Park John Lyons Lane Stormwater Pumping Station: $500,000.
▪ South Miami Dade Salt Intrusion Barrier Project: $600,000.
▪ Southwest Ranches Drainage Project: $340,000.
▪ West Miami Portable Phase 1: $500,000.
▪ Miami River Restoration: $150,000.
▪ Zoo Miami Expansion and Renovation of animal hospital: $1 million.
▪ Ludlam Trail Corridor Acquisition: $5 million.
▪ The Underline: $5 million.
▪ Sweetwater Complete Streets Project: $500,000.
▪ City of Miami Gardens Pedestrian Improvements: Bridge and Tunnel Construction $12 million.
▪ 87th Avenue Ramp to Miami Dade Expressway Authority: $1 million.
▪ Southwest Ranches Lighting Project: $200,000.
▪ Southwest Ranches Guardrails: $375,000.
▪ Town of Davie Downtown Improvements: $220,000.
▪ Pembroke Pines Senior Transportation Program: $218,000.
▪ Southwest 25th Street/SW 48th Avenue Drainage improvements: $250,000.
▪ Lauderdale Lakes Comprehensive Sidewalk Improvement Project: $200,000.
▪ Key Biscayne Adaptive Traffic Signalization: $165,000.
▪ Multi-Model Transit Station Downtown Palmetto Bay: $429,000.
▪ Building Code Enforcement Training in Broward County: $150,000.
▪ Regional Entrepreneurship Center — Urban League Broward: $1 million.
▪ North Bay Village Boardwalk and Economic Revitalization: $250,000.
▪ City of Pembroke Pines Special Needs Inclusive Park: $250,000.
▪ Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society Key West: $400,000.
▪ Deerfield Beach African American Memorial: $400,000.
▪ Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center: $200,000.
▪ Miami Downtown Development Authority Baywalk: $500,000.
▪ Bal Harbour Village Utility Master Plan: $50,000.
▪ Golden Beach Street Lightning: $100,000.
▪ Design District Public Improvements City of Miami: $500,000.
▪ Pembroke Pines Fire Training Facility: $600,000.
▪ Southwest Ranches Regional Emergency Operations and Distribution Center: $300,000.
▪ Camp Matecumbe Historic Chapel Restoration: $275,000.
▪ Parkland Library Master Plan Expansion: $100,000.
▪ African Museum of Arts and Culture Center: $500,000.
▪ PIAG Museum: $263,000.