Broward does well in state budget
By Nikki Hamilton
After a complete legislative session and a 20-day special session the legislature finally finished a state budget on Fri-day (June 19, 2015).
The Florida Constitution mandates two things when it comes to the state budget, that it be balanced and complete by June 30. The different chambers of the legislature worked on the budget during the legislative session, and then the House and the Senate convened in conference to hammer out differences between the competing spending plans.
During this budget conference, Senator Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale) served as an at-large member, which gave him the unique ability to influence and vote on every aspect of the proposal.
“I was honored that my leadership and seniority afforded me this prestigious position,” said Sen. Smith.
Using that influence, Sen. Smith was able to get significant funding issues within the budget. One such item is $850,000 for a new linear park in Lauderhill.
“As I drove down Sunrise Boulevard, I noticed that next to the canal in Plantation is improved with a nice passive park but not in Lauderhill,” Senator Smith said. “I was glad to get money for my childhood neighborhood of Parkway, to get the same improvements and a new linear park.”
Other significant items in the budget for this area were:
- $18,563,942 Broward College
- $200,000 Mount Olive Development Corporation
- $250,000 City of Fort Lauderdale Justice Program
- $600,000 Broward County Family Intensive Treatment (FIT)
- $500,000 Broward County Sheriff’s Office Inmate Portal
- $500,000 Broward County Sheriff’s Office Juvenile Assessment Center
- $500,000 Broward County Sheriff’s Office Violence Intervention Pro-Active Enforcement Response Team (V.I.P.E.R.)
- $650,000 City of Pompano Beach Dixie Hwy Roadway Improvements
- $2,500,000 Urban League of Broward County Entrepreneurship Program
- $10,000 City of North Lauderdale Security Cameras
- $500,000 City of North Lauderdale Sanitary Sewer Re-habilitation
- $850,000 City of Lauderhill New Linear Park
But the most significant item in the budget directed by Sen. Smith is the creation of a Criminal Justice Institute at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Fla.
“I have heard for far too long, police chiefs in Ferguson, Mo., New York City and many other areas claim that the lack of diversity in police departments is because they can’t find Black officers. So I wanted to make sure that no one had that excuse here in Florida,” said Smith.
The first of its kind in the nation, the Criminal Justice Institute will be a public private partnership funded by the state of Florida and the HBCUs.
The funds provided will be used to recruit students and hire a new faculty for the Institute. EWC will develop a partnership with Florida College, the police academy in Jacksonville. Students will graduate in four years with not only a college degree in criminology but they will also be fully certified as a police officer and able to begin at any police department in Florida on day one.