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Tampa Theatre primed to snag $1 million in state funds for capital improvements

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A downtown Tampa cultural institution appears to have some influential allies in Tallahassee.

As noted by the Tampa Tribune‘s James Rosica, the Tampa Theatre is slated to receive $1 million in appropriations for improvements and upkeep under a state “cultural facilities” program funded by general revenue and administered through grants to local governments and non-state entities.

The capital project is one of only two related items mutually agreed upon by both chambers as conferees from the House and Senate hold weekend meetings at the Capitol to hash out the $4 billion in differences between their respective budget proposals.

The conference must finalize a budget before the end of the ongoing 20 days of legislative bonus time — and secure final approval by Gov. Rick Scott, whose signature is required for the budget to take effect — in order to avoid a state government shutdown.

The 88-year-old theater, thriving of late after lying dormant for years in the 1970s, lies within the state House district of Republican Majority Leader Rep. Dana Young and that of Sen. Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee and sits on the Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations panel.

“TED approps” in turn is chaired by fellow Tampa Bay lawmaker Sen. Jack Latvala, who also chairs the budget conference panel that will help decide its ultimate fate.

The $1 million sum is the second-largest of any cultural project funded by either chamber’s proposed Transportation & Economic Development budget silos, the largest being $1.5 million for improvements for the Mahaffey Theater, in Latvala’s district. The House, as of press time, has not allocated funding for that project.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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