Gulf of Mexico

Florida Legislature to look at Hurricane Michael recovery

TALLAHASSEE — After spending more than $1 billion in the almost five months since Hurricane Michael ripped through a large swath of the eastern Panhandle, state lawmakers say it’s clear that the cleanup, recovery and cost of one of the nation’s worst storms is far from complete.

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When lawmakers open the 2019 session Tuesday, they’ll be struggling to meet what Senate budget chief Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said is a likely price tag topping $2.7 billion.

On top of that, more than $600 million is proposed to be scattered across another 100 projects — rebuilding communities, schools and infrastructure across some of the 10 counties staggered by the Category 4 storm.

“It’s going to guide our decision-making from a budget standpoint,” said Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.

But there clearly is competition for the cash.

While Northwest Florida residents and officials have complained about the region being forgotten since the October hurricane — with donations to relief funds below those which poured in following earlier hurricanes — lawmakers have a long list of spending priorities.

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