Sarasota-Manatee Scores With State Budget

Legislature

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY MAY 2, 2019

Florida lawmakers will remain in session through Saturday, thanks to extended budget talks between House and Senate leaders. But the Sarasota-Manatee region already scored significant appropriations wins in both chambers.

Higher education and water quality efforts won the support of state lawmakers. State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota received $750,000 from the state to expand its nursing program. The University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, meanwhile landed a $5 million budget request to help with operational costs.

The Cross College Alliance, which coordinates resource-sharing between the area’s major schools, secured a $500,000 allocation as well.

"The funding in the state budget for the Cross College Alliance will allow Sarasota's five colleges to continue collaborating to provide exceptional learning and job placement opportunities for our students," said state Rep. Margaret Good, R-Sarasota. "I am proud to work with the Alliance as it establishes our region as a higher education destination."

Dr. Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College, said the funding will go toward a specific center that can help people in the region better prepare for the future. "Basically, it gets additional skills for those who will be creative, collaborative, and then they become more competitive," he said.

On the environmental front, Bradenton Beach will get $1.2 million to help with fund control efforts.The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will see $600,000 in help for its ongoing master planning effort. The Dona Bay Watershed Restoration Project in Nokomis will receive $1 million in state assistance for the county-run effort.

With state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, in the Senate President’s chair this year, the region saw many of its local needs met. Notably, two budget requests for Easter Seals of Southwest Florida made the state budget. That included $525,000 for capital improvements to the Sarasota area campus and $343,000 for vocational training there.

George Pfeiffer, vice president of marketing for the organization, thanked Galvano and state Reps. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, and Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, and also gave behind-the-scenes credit to state Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, for helping the budget request along.

“Those in our community who have unique and varied abilities that are currently being served, as well as those that need to be served, are now on track to realize some amazing and wonderful improvements in their daily lives,” Pfeiffer said.

Photo courtesy Sarasota County: Dona Bay.

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