DeSantis Signs Rattlesnake Key, Vetoes Other Local Spending

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Image via Google Maps.

When Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new state budget into law, the Sarasota-Bradenton region both saw incredible investments like the acquisition of Rattlesnake Key and losses through vetoes on several major projects.

On a positive note, Rattlesnake Key was among the biggest local spends anywhere in Florida, with $23 million in state funding set aside to buy the Manatee County island for use as a state park.

“Overall our community did very well in the budget,” said Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton. “I’m extremely excited about the preservation of Rattlesnake Key for future generations to enjoy.”

The land deal had been Boyd’s top priority during the regular legislative session this spring, he said. State Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, pushed for the purchase on the House said. Lawmakers ultimately landed nearly 10 times what they initially requested to fund the appropriation. “We will now be able to permanently protect one of the most environmentally sensitive areas located in pristine Terra Ceia Bay,” Robinson said.

But at the same time, the region felt plenty of disappointment as DeSantis vetoed nearly $3 billion in other spending projects statewide. Downtown Sarasota in particular saw a number of redevelopment efforts fall to the side.

Some $700,000 in street improvements in St. Armands Circle and another $400,000 for Main Street improvements fell to the veto pen. So did $500,000 in funding for The Bay redevelopment effort. Another $500,000 budgeted to connect Legacy Trail also veered off course.

State Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, said that won’t stop the efforts completely but it means more local investment will be required to get the job done. 

“The city will continue with those projects, but it would have been helpful to receive state funding,” she said. “Making the city walkable and safe benefits not only the residents of Sarasota but the people who come to visit from all over the state.”

A $524,000 investment in shelter services with the Safe Children Coalition didn’t make it into the budget, though Safe Children Coalition CEO Brena Slater noted the budget fully funded basic services for the community-based provider for the first time in years. That had been a legislative priority for McFarland.

DeSantis also vetoed $1.4 million for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens for use at its Historic Spanish Point campus.

Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said local lawmakers felt confident all the requests that made it into the budget were worthy, and will likely see advocacy in coming years.

“Our Sarasota delegation fights hard for community issues and we do our best to deliver funding for a variety of causes,” he said. “Not sure why the Governor vetoed these Sarasota projects but hope to bring them back again next year.”

Image via Google Maps.

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