Rattlesnake Key, Safe Children Coalition Big Budget Winners

Todays News

A proposed budget for the state of Florida showed tremendous wins for the Sarasota-Bradenton area, from money for a new state park to boosts in spending for adoption services.

“Our region is a big winner this session,” said Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota. “We have a great delegation that worked hard to secure funding for the various projects and community-based issues.”

The biggest single expenditure that counts as a regional win likely would be the $23 appropriation included in the budget to purchase Rattlesnake Key. Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, counted that as his top budget priority this year.

“Preserving Rattlesnake Key is instrumental to protect our waterway from commercial development, to preserve fish and wildlife, and create a park and recreation area for all Floridians to enjoy for generations to come,” he said. 

The key, which is accessible only by water, sits near Terra Ceia in Manatee County waters, south of the Sunshine Skyway. Manatee County Commissioners last year voted to put $3 million toward the effort and a funding request from Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, initially sought just $2.5 million, but this amount massively boosts the available resources for land purchase.

Gruters, meanwhile, worked with Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, on changing how much money would go to community-based care agencies in parts of the state including Sarasota. The result was an $8.6 million increase in the budget for Safe Children Coalition, about a 30% boost, according to CEO Brena Slater.

She said the agency for seven years has suffered with a shortage in funding compared to areas like Miami. A change in formula used for this year’s budget makes sure every agency in Florida gets at least 100% requested funding.

“For us, it means we will be able to provide more diversion services for families, prevention services for families,” she said. “We’ll be able to increase case managers’ salaries and the number of case managers so their case loads are less. Our children and families will finally be equal to other children and families in the state of Florida.”

A number of individual appropriations also came to the region, such as $2.5 million for State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, $2.5 million for a pedestrian overpass over U.S. 41 in Palmetto, $2.5 million for a training program at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, and $3 million for powerline removal on State Road 789 in Bradenton Beach.

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