Leaders Present Local Needs to Manatee Delegation

Todays News

Local leaders in Manatee County pressed lawmakers Tuesday about the region’s greatest financial needs. The county’s political leaders came together for an annual Manatee County Legislative Delegation meeting.

County Commission Chair Vanessa Baugh stressed the need for continued funding to clean up the Piney Point industrial site, where a breach in a reservoir resulted in untreated water being dumped in Port Manatee to avoid a flooding hazard for surrounding homes. “Piney Point has been a nightmare for our environment,” she said.

She also pushed for the state this year to address inequities in funding for child and family social services. On that front, Safe Children Coalition Brena Slater also spoke about a state formula that leaves the region with less dollars per child than many high-density parts of the state. The county is one of the top four counties for removal serves, and as recently as 2015 topped that list. But some counties have tens of millions more in funding.

“Our families deserve the same level of funding as other children,” she said.

School Board Chair James Golden told lawmakers the continued challenges faced by schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic should prompt the state for a third consecutive year to waive some of its quantitative performance measures. “The School Board requests the Legislature eliminate for another yea the ’21-’22 school year teacher evaluations and individual school and district grades,” he said.

Lawmakers said they would take all input into consideration. On matters of appropriations, representatives said they plan to work across the aisle together to secure as much funding as possible for Manatee County.

“This is, if not one of then the strongest delegations in the state,” said Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton. “We come together on issues, especially appropriations issues, that are important to our area.”

Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, D-St. Petersburg and the delegation’s only Democrat, said philosophical matters are put aside by local lawmakers when it comes to local demands. “Even though do sit across the aisle from each other, we find common ground with each other on the things we can,” she said.

Rep. Tommy Gregor, R-Sarasota, said all input from leaders will shape lawmakers’ actions when session starts in January. “We’re all taking notes, and we will take what we learn in these talks to Tallahassee with us,” the delegation chairman said.

 

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