Florida Senate Voucher Sponsor Earmarked $2.3 Million for Voucher Eligible Sports Academy

From Matt Dixon in the Tampa Tribune:

TALLAHASSEE _ Powerful state Sen. Bill Galvano says he had nothing to do with a client of his private law firm securing millions during the 2013 legislative session, but a state budget document that Galvano disputes shows he requested the money.

IMG Academies, a Bradenton-based private sports and academic training academy, received $2.3 million in the current 2013-14 state budget. The firm is represented by a Bradenton law firm that includes Galvano as one of several named partners.

Galvano told the Tribune/Scripps Capital Bureau that he had nothing to do with the money in the current year’s budget, or $2.5 million for IMG in the 2014-15 proposed budget lawmakers are currently considering.

“I was not involved in securing the funding in either budget,” Galvano wrote in an email to Tribune/Scripps.

A budget spreadsheet compiled by the governor’s office lists Galvano as requesting last year’s $2.3 million, which was for “a major expansion that includes a stadium, field house, student dorms and a research facility” at the nearly 500-acre campus.

In addition, he told his local newspaper that he helped secure the money.

“I think it shows the projects we were advocating for were justifiable and need-based,” Galvano told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in a May 2013 story about few regional projects getting vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott.

While Galvano disputes he requested the money, he crafted an amendment that would “make the IMG Academy eligible for (state) tax refunds,” according to the spreadsheet.

That language was amended onto a Galvano-authored bill with two weeks left in the legislative session. The underlying bill (SB 1828) didn’t pass.

Galvano said he met with the Senate’s general counsel about the issue, and it was determined he didn’t need to file a disclosure form.

Just how deep into corruption are Florida republican legislators going to go in their education privatization schemes? When legislators are not getting paid lucrative salaries by charter schools and writing legislation which games the system on their behalf, they are using taxpayer dollars to build facilities for voucher recipient private schools belonging to the rich and famous.

Ray Sansom must be rolling eyes this morning.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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