Legislature nixes Detert’s latest plan for film funding

By Lloyd Dunkelberger , Herald-Tribune

Sen. Nancy Detert’s latest effort to boost Florida’s film and television industry died Saturday in the end-stage negotiations over a new state budget.

The Senate accepted a House proposal on economic development spending that eliminated Detert’s plan for $10 million in tax-credit funding in effort to sustain a film industry program, which is set to expire next year.

But in the same deal between Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, more than a half-dozen economic development and cultural projects in Sarasota and Manatee counties secured funding, although in most cases it was at a reduced level.

And a new project emerged and was approved: $650,000 for the Loveland Village, a Venice area facility designed to house adults with developmental disabilities. Detert, R-Venice, has played a major role in securing funding for the project over the last few years.
Other projects that won approval on Saturday included $250,000 for the Modern Pentathlon, which is scheduled to host the U.S. Modern Pentathlon Olympic Trials in February and the Modern Pentathlon World Cup Final in April, an Olympic qualifier.
Mote Marine Laboratory, which is undergoing a major expansion of its research facilities, secured $600,000 in the deal, down from a Senate request of $1 million.
Lawmakers approved $500,000 for installing new air conditioning in the Circus Arts Conservatory. The Legislature approved $1 million for the project last year but Gov. Rick Scott vetoed it.
Manasota Goodwill will receive $600,000 for a pilot project aimed at job training for residents with development disabilities.
Bradenton secured $500,000 for a “tournament sports park” project at Pirate City, the Pittsburgh Pirates training complex. The proposal includes building a new baseball field and attracting more teams, including youth tournaments, to use the facilities. The Senate originally sought $1 million.
The IMG sports academy secured $50,000 in housing and community development funds.
Other area projects won approval in previous negotiations between the House and Senate, including $250,000 for the South Florida Museum “backyard universe,” an interactive project designed to familiarize children with math and science concepts, and $300,000 to fund a psychiatry residency program at the Manatee Glens mental health treatment center in Bradenton.
Port Manatee will receive $300,000 in security improvements in the state transportation budget.
Detert said she was pleased by the additional $650,000 in funding for Loveland Village project. She said the money will be part of the effort to provide community housing for adults with developmental disabilities, including training to help the residents in their independent living.
But Detert said she was very disappointed in the House’s repeated opposition to the $10 million film program, which she said was designed to keep the initiative until next year when she will renew her effort to pass legislation to revamp the film tax-credit program.
“I’m getting tired of spending years doing one piece of legislation,” said Detert, who chairs the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. “I just don’t see why the House doesn’t see the beauty of film when we can prove it’s a winning item.”
She also said Florida’s reluctance to boost its film industry means students at two of the top film schools in the country — at Ringling College of Art and Design and Florida State University — have to look elsewhere for jobs.
“We put you through film school and then we tell you to go to Los Angeles or Atlanta,” Detert said. “I think we’re missing an opportunity.”
Other major area projects remain in play as lawmakers head toward having a final budget bill on the desks of the senators and House members by Tuesday, in order to meet the 72-hour-waiting period before a final vote on Friday, ending the special session that began June 1.
New College of Florida had a $7.36 million addition to the Heiser Natural Sciences complex on the House education construction list.
Detert said she is doubtful that project will make the final cut, but she said there is support for joint campus police initiative between New College and the University of South Florida. The House had provided $360,000 for that effort.

Area lawmakers are also pushing for $8.9 million for a major renovation project for the library facilities at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.
The education construction list is expected to be one of the last items negotiated by the House and Senate. The new budget, after a review and approval by Gov. Scott, takes effect July 1.

Projects getting state funding House and Senate budget negotiators have reached agreement on a host of projects for Sarasota and Manatee counties:
• $650,000 for Loveland Village, a community designed to house independently living adults with developmental disabilities.
• $600,000 for the expansion of research facilities at Mote Marine Laboratory.
• $500,000 for a new air conditioning at the Circus Arts Conservatory.
• $250,000 for the Modern Pentathlon.
• $600,000 for Manasota Goodwill for job training for residents with developmental disabilities.
• $500,000 for a “tournament sports park” project at the training facilities for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
• $250,000 for the South Florida Museum’s “backyard universe” project.
• $300,000 to fund a psychiatry residency program at the Manatee Glens mental health treatment center.
• $300,000 for security improvements at Port Manatee.
• $50,000 in housing and community development funds for IMG academy.
• Other area projects remain under consideration in the final negotiations on a new state budget including:
• $8.9 million for a major renovation project for library facilties at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.
• $7.36 million for an addition to the Heiser Natural Sciences complex at New College of Florida.


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