Big Bend lawmakers are asking for more than $100 million for local and regional projects. They include everything from university plans to area infrastructure projects.
Freshman Rep. Ramon Alexander, D-Tallahassee, has the priciest requests. He wants more than $20 million for Florida A&M University. The money would go toward online courses and updating buildings. Alexander said these are vital projects despite the House speaker’s desire to make deep budget cuts.
“I know the speaker is focused on return on investment and I will continue to communicate in that regard to show the significant value of our projects and the type of impact it will have,” he said.
Other big ticket requests for the Big Bend include more than $7 million for a wastewater project in Calhoun County and more than a million dollars for a Madison County gas line extension.
Alexander also proposes money for the City of Midway. The city wants $2.2 million for a central sewer system. City Manager Auburn Ford says hard rains overwhelm septic tanks and back up wastewater into people’s homes.
“We are close to Ochlockonee River and Lake Talquin, it’s a fishing resort. And sooner or later it’s going to start affecting those water bodies and we’ve got to be proactive.”
Other infrastructure projects proposed include hospital improvements in Liberty County and a bridge replacement in Leon County. House rules changed this year requiring representatives to file projects as separate appropriation bills.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran has mandated local project requests be presented and vetted through bills in an effort to make the process more transparent, but the Senate has no such rules.