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Rick Kriseman is pleased with state budget

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Florida Legislature agreed on an $80 billion budget late Monday night after a highly contentious legislative session and special session. The budget includes several wins for St. Pete.

The biggest win for St. Pete is a $12.3 million appropriation for the USF St. Pete School of Business.

“I join our friends at the University of South Florida – St. Petersburg in celebrating the $12.3 million for the Kate Tiedemann College of Business,” St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman wrote in a statement. “USF-St. Petersburg is a gem in our community, and providing funding for the business school is a positive development for our innovation district. “

Kriseman also issued his thanks to state Rep. Kathleen Peters and state Sen. Jack Latvala for their efforts to ensure $4 million for statewide programs addressing homelessness.

“I also want to thank Representative Darryl Rouson for his support and advocacy for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service initiative, funded for $1 million,” Kriseman wrote.

Kriseman is also celebrating a win for the city’s thriving arts and culture community. Contained in the 2015 budget is a $1 million appropriation for the Florida Holocaust Museum in downtown St. Pete.

“I applaud the Legislature for recognizing its economic impact with cultural grants, particularly the funding improvements to our Mahaffey Theater,” Kriseman said.

He also thanked state Sen. Jeff Brandes for “facilitating a commitment from the Florida Department of Transportation to examine the feasibility of a runway extension at Albert Whitted Airport.

What won’t be studied using state dollars is the feasibility of a bus rapid transit line connected downtown St. Pete to the beaches along First Avenues North and South. A $1 million ask for that study did not make it into the state budget.

Lawmakers will not finalize the state budget until later this week. Florida law requires a 72-hour waiting period before a final vote starting from the time the budget lands on legislators’ desks.

The budget is also still subject to Gov. Rick Scott’s approval.

A budget has to be approved by July 1 to avert a partial government shutdown.

“I am pleased that the Florida Legislature has finally agreed on a budget for the Sunshine State,” Kriseman said.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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