Sen. Rick Scott visited Port Panama City on Thursday to highlight his budget proposal, which includes more than $100 million for ports across the state.
Sen. Scott said when was governor, he spent state resources to modernize the state’s 15 seaports and trade infrastructure.
“As the governor, I invested your tax dollars to get a return so you could get more jobs,” he said. “$1.4 billion in state dollars and it worked.”
But he said the federal government was supposed to pick up a portion of that funding, and they fell short.
“We put up the federal share, $140 million to get things done and they owe that money back,” he said.
Now Scott said he has included that money in his ‘Fighting for Florida’ budget agenda, to be used to provide investments for port projects to create more jobs.
“These are really high paying jobs, and the Panhandle needs them,” he said.
Sen. Scott also wants to use the money to improve infrastructure and security at ports across the state.
“Whether that’s at our airports or our seaports, we have to invest more money to make sure we’re all safe,” he said.
While it’s unclear right now how much of that funding would go to Bay County, Port Panama City Executive Director, Wayne Stubbs, said this partnership is crucial to their growth.
“We need more space, and that means we need dredging,” Stubbs said. “We’ve finally got money for dredging, but in the years ahead we’ll need to take this port deeper, we’ll need to expand our facilities, and that will require a solid partner with the federal government.”
Scott said in this budget he is also making military funding and rebuilding Tyndall Air Force Base a top priority.