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Senators slip earmarked projects in state budget

Despite the emergence of the conservative "new Senate," budget documents suggest senators are using old tricks to spend more money in and around their districts.

Senators are asking for $86.7 million in spending for capital projects that the college system didn't request, according to Public Education Capital Outlay records. A number of major projects appear in prominent lawmakers home turf, including Senate President Jeff Atwater, President-designate Mike Haridopolos and budget chief J.D. Alexander, and GOP Chairman John Thrasher.

Palm Beach State College, near Atwater's district, appears to benefit the most with $26.3 million that the college system never asked for. Valencia Community College in Osceloa County, close to Haridopolos' home, would receive the single largest chunk at $21.7 million for a library and high tech building. Polk State College, near Alexander's turf, would get a $12.2 million bonus. Florida State College in Jacksonville in Thrasher's domain would see another $2.5 million for a commercial vehicle driving center.

The earmarks, if they survive the final budget process, appear destined for a "turkey" list, parlance in Tallahassee for member projects.