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The Ave Herald

Serving the community of Ave Maria, Florida


State Funding for Jackson Lab Still Unclear After Stimulus Bill Passes Congress

Florida State legislators are analyzing the stimulus bill passed Tuesday by the U.S. Congress to determine its effect on numerous state budget items, including the $50 million earmarked for the Jackson Lab genetics research facility near Ave Maria.

The state budget passed earlier this year had assumed that Congress would extend increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for six months, which would have provided at least $800 million to the state of Florida. The Jackson Lab earmark depended on those funds being available.

The stimulus bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in special session, and sent to President Obama for signature, extends increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for six months, but at lower levels so the amount Florida receives will be reduced. Legislators will be studying the legislation, which provides money for education as well as the Medicaid reimbursment, to see how it affects planned state spending.

The Florida legislature will not come back into session until next spring, although Rep. Matt Hudson says that legislative leaders have been planning for a special session in September to deal with the impact of the BP oil spill. That would be a logical time, Mr. Hudson said, to make decisions on how the federal stimulus money is spent.

The $50 million included in the Florida budget last spring was the first installment of a promised $130 million commitment to the Jackson Lab project. Collier County would need to match the $130 million and although county commissioners have voted to keep moving forward with the development, they have not yet determined how to raise the entire $130 million. At their last meeting in July, the commissioners voted to allocate $28 million through internal borrowing that would be available depending on what the state legislature's eventual decision will be.

See previous story: County Moves Forward Cautiously on Jackson Labs


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