The project is the largest in the latest batch of state spending boosted by federal dollars.
The University of South Florida campus in St. Petersburg is receiving the largest cut of millions of federal dollars approved by state lawmakers on Friday.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee approved $15 million for an ocean science center at USF through the Local Support Grant Programa new state mechanism for lawmakers to secure $175 million in federal funds for local projects.
The $15 million project will cover the planning and initial construction costs of the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation. USF notes that it will be asking millions more for the project in the coming years.
“Once complete, the facility will allow more students from the USF St. Petersburg campus and USF as a whole to earn STEM degrees, and the research conducted by the Flood Hub will help mitigate the impacts of flooding throughout the state for homeowners, businesses and various government entities,” according to the request for financing.
Republican Representative from St. Pete Beach Linda Chaney sponsored the request. Another powerful lawyer in the USF corner was another Pinellas County Republican, House Speaker Chris Sprows.
The project has come under media scrutiny for its similarity to a $75 million project for USF’s new Environmental and Oceanographic Science Research and Education Center. Govt. Ron DeSantis vetoed the project in June, creating questions about whether the legislature could use the local support grant program to circumvent budget vetoes. The House argues yes, but lawmakers avoided the issue by not approving projects identical to those DeSantis vetoed.
Globally, 238 projects were selected from 971 requests made by legislators.
Among the 10 most expensive projects, two went to Pasco County, home of the President of the Senate wilton simpson, a Republican from Trilby; three went to Bay County, home of the House’s chief budget negotiator Jay Trumbull; and four went to Pinellas County from Chaney and Sprows.
In total, Pinellas County received $25.9 million in Local Support Grants. Among the plans was a distribution of $3 million to build the High responsibility Training centera site for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to practice vehicle pursuits.