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North Florida Has Key Projects Funded Under Panhandle Appropriations Chair

Apalachicola is a small Coastal Community on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida's Panhandle
Adobe Stock
Apalachicola is a small Coastal Community on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida's Panhandle

North Florida is often an afterthought when people think about Florida as a whole. The same sometimes happens during session when money is doled out for member projects. Part of this is due to representation—there are more people in South and Central Florida and that rewards those regions with more representatives. This session however the Appropriations Chair is Panama City Republican Representative Jay Trumbull. I spoke with him and another North Florida representative about how they worked to make sure the panhandle got a slice of the pie.

Often times North Florida can be overlooked since there aren't as many delegates compared to more densely populated areas in the state. How does it help the region now that a North Floridian is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee?

Trumbull: That’s a great point. I say this a lot when I’m talking to folks back home that there are 20 something members in the Miami Dade delegation and there are only 8 members in the central time zone including the House and the Senate. So I’m very conscious of the fact that Northwest Florida needs a lot of support and so a goal I’ve had my now seven years being in the legislature is to make sure that we are looking out for the little guys. The ones that don’t have a tremendous amount, there’s not a significant amount of members that are up here advocating. Which is why it’s helpful to have somebody like Ramon Alexander to be able to work alongside and he’s a tremendous advocate for his community.

Representative Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee), what were some of the projects you were able to get through this session?

Alexander: One of the things that I’m extremely excited about is the funding we were able to secure for Gadsden County. We were able to secure funding for a Gadsden County Mobile Health Unit. There are a lot of rural areas throughout Gadsden County where it’s very difficult to get to. So instead of having the people come to us, we’re going to make sure to come to the people to make sure they have adequate resources and services. So we were able to secure close to half a million dollars in the budget for Gadsden County to secure a mobile health unit.

I know that the mobile health unit has been in the work for a while. What are some of the other big-ticket items in your area?

Alexander: Securing funding for Chattahoochee mountain bike trail, securing funding for Quincy for the Fire Department well over $755,000 in funding for that project. And as well as a lot of transportation dollars, millions of dollars that we have in the budget that will go towards new roads and infrastructure projects and so I’m excited to move forward.

How much help was it having a fellow North Floridian as the chair of Appropriations?

Alexander: Well I will say this I’ve always had a good relationship with members in the appropriations process and with our appropriations chairs. We’ve been able to do some significant work securing millions of dollars throughout the district. One particularly getting 24.8 million dollars the largest single PECO project in the history of FAMU several years ago through that process. But I will say the Panhandle members we do stick together we’re small in number but strong in might. Because we have a certain reflective values and principles.

Trumbull, the appropriations chairman, has also managed to steer millions of dollars to septic, sewer, and water system treatment expansion to the region, which is still recovering from Hurricane Michael.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.