$3.1 million for Palm Beach County shooting range added in state budget deal

County gun range gets state dollars in budget agreement.

County gun range gets state dollars in budget agreement.

House and Senate budget-writers agreed Monday to tuck $3.1 million into the state’s spending plan for a recreational shooting range west of Palm Beach Gardens.

The deal emerged as lawmakers extended budget conference committees through Monday. The original plan was to have House Budget Chief Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, take over, but dozens of issues across a range of budget areas remained unsettled.

The shooting range drew a similar amount from the 2014 Legislature. Miami-Dade and Broward counties have outdoor public gun ranges and Palm Beach County was considered the most densely populated county without a major shooting facility.

A smaller public gun range is at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

While a number of projects on the county’s wish list — like the shooting range — have gotten the go-ahead in recent budget negotiations, a number of big-ticket items remain unresolved both for the county and state.

While conference committees will likely conclude Tuesday, Corcoran and Lee could spend a few more days working on differences between the House and Senate budgets.

In a key agreement reached late Sunday, the two sides agreed to a $458 million boost in public school funding, representing a modest 1 percent increase.

But the two sides included some election-year bragging points in the package. While earlier proposals had school increases financed primarily on the backs of local property taxpayers — whose rising values amounted to more tax dollars — the latest deal will be financed completely by state dollars, lawmakers said.

The average per-pupil funding of $7,178 for each of the state’s 2.8 million school children also tops by $52 the pre-recession record set in 2007-08.

Gov. Rick Scott campaigned for re-election in 2014 on the promise that he would shatter that mark, but lawmakers didn’t go along last year.

But the per-pupil record looks like the only budget prize Scott will claim this year — which could prompt him to veto plenty out of the budget expected to win final approval from lawmakers March 11, the final scheduled day of the 2016 session.

Corcoran and Lee both have said that it’s impossible for lawmakers to back Scott’s sought-after $1 billion in tax breaks mostly favoring businesses and another $250 million in economic incentive cash to lure companies to Florida.

Instead, lawmakers have agreed to set aside $400 million in tax breaks, whose details are still to be determined. So far, there is nothing for economic incentives.

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