“We have a sense of the governor’s office team and what they are looking for. We need to focus our energies on projects that can make it through.”
MILTON — The Santa Rosa County Commission hase come up with its proposed legislative priorities for the upcoming 2020 session scheduled to run from mid-January to mid-March.
Its tentative list includes:
$598,559 to complete a study on expansion of Woodbine Road in Pace;
A $3 million connector between the East and West Santa Rosa Industrial Parks;
$1 million to upgrade the Northwest Florida Industrial Park at Interstate 10 and $3 million for a U.S. Highway 90 and Hamilton Bridge connector;
Money for the construction phase to increase U.S. Highway 98 to six lanes east of Gulf Breeze;
Funding to begin the right of way purchases for a new State Road 87 connector to Munson Highway; and
The authority to use Tourist Development Tax money to pay for lifeguards and law enforcement during specific tourism events.
The first Santa Rosa County legislative delegation meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20 at the county’s administrative building.
John Johnson and Eric Pressman, the county’s Tallahassee lobbyists, attended the commission’s meeting Thursday to review last year’s requests and discuss its upcoming list of priorities for the 2020 session.
Johnson told commissioners that they were not singled out by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year. DeSantis vetoed $2.5 million in county projects, including expansion of Woodbine Road in Pace, upgrades to the I-10 Industrial Park, a new training tower for Midway firefighters and funding for the new Santa Rosa County Courthouse.
Overall, DeSantis slashed more than $131 million from the $90.9 billion budget in his first year in office.
“It wasn’t a Santa Rosa issue,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t angst toward us.”
He said the line item vetoes gave his Johnson & Blanton lobbying firm a better idea of what DeSantis deems important, such as the environment.
“We have a sense of the governor’s office team and what they are looking for,” Johnson told commissioners. “We need to focus our energies on projects that can make it through.”
County Administrator Dan Schebler and Commission Chairman Sam Parker plan to accompany their lobbyists to meetings they scheduled Aug. 27 with officials in Tallahassee.
“We need to bring some of those dollars home rather than it all going to South Florida,” Parker said.
Commissioner Lane Lynchard agreed with Johnson about making sure the county requests are more favorable to the governor.
“Now that we’re aware of some of (the governor’s) priorities, we can put together a list of requests that more align with his focused efforts,” Lynchard said.