The drawings of a gleaming 1,000-foot-tall observation tower planned for downtown Miami are eye-catching.
Resembling a badly bent nail clipper, SkyRise Miami would be part event space, part amusement park with a flight-simulation ride and bungee jump.
Also eye-catching: $10 million.
That is what the Florida House is proposing to spend on the project next year, according to a budget proposal released last week.
Other big ticket items in the proposed budgets of either the Senate or the House: $15 million for the 200-mile Coast-to-Coast Connector, a bicycle and pedestrian path that links St. Petersburg and Titusville; $4 million for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium; and $1 million for infrastructure in the Miami Design District.
During the Great Recession, budget deficits and tea party protests meant pork barrel spending gave way to austerity. But now it’s an election year and legislators are looking at a projected $1.2 billion surplus in what is expected to be a total budget of around $75 billion. So lawmakers are scrambling to haul in projects to benefit their districts.
“I must have 30 pounds of member requests, stacks and stacks of them, in my office,” said Ed Hooper, the Clearwater Republican who chairs the House appropriations committee on transportation and economic development. “It was easier to do budgets when we had no money. Now that there’s this perceived surplus, there’s four to five years of pent-up demand.”
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