Now, in the final week of the session, lawmakers have about $1.2 billion in surplus, bonus money that can go pretty much anywhere they choose.
That fact has stirred loose an avalanche of hometown projects, the likes of which Tallahassee hasn’t seen in an election year since 2006.
“Think about it: What’s the average size of member projects, $200,000?” said Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach. “Divide that into a billion. That’s a whole lot of projects … a lot of lawmakers are going to be happy.”
Some projects are relatively small: A $350,000 fountain in the state’s richest town, Palm Beach, and $123,000 for a dog park in an affluent Jacksonville neighborhood. Others are big: $12 million for House Speaker Will Weatherford’s alma mater, the private Jacksonville University, and $3 million for an industrial park in Walton County.