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Mayor Curry Talks City Needs Over Lunch With State Lawmakers

Lindsey Kilbride

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry told state lawmakers Tuesday afternoon the city needs more money for public safety, infrastructure, and health care, among other things.

Curry invited the Duval Legislative Delegation, a group of Northeast Florida state lawmakers, to lunch at City Hall. Curry and the delegates dined and talked Jacksonville priorities without a formal agenda.

Jacksonville Democratic Senator Audrey Gibson says she’s glad to see the meetings starting early ahead of next year’s legislative session.

Gibson said, “If there’s a specific appropriation that we want, for Jacksonville, we need to know it sooner rather than later.”

Curry told the lawmakers Jacksonville needs funding for at-risk youth programs, roads and bridges, pension debt and UF Health hospital.

Gibson says keeping UF Health afloat will be a challenge without more funding from the city.

She said, “We don’t have a taxing district like some Florida areas. And the federal government has already told us that they were going to decrease that pot more so that could be a situation at the end of the session this year.”

Fernandina Beach Republican Representative Janet Adkins says she was disappointed Governor Scott vetoed millions of dollars headed to Jacksonville this year — particularly $1 milion for the ferry. She says the delegation will continue to fight for some of the vetoed funding.

Adkins says she thinks Curry’s relationship will Tallahassee could benefit the area. Curry was chairman of the Florida Republican Party throughout much of Governor Rick Scott’s time in office.

“I absolutely do believe that Mayor Curry’s relationship with the governor will be very helpful,” Adkins said. “Relationships are important and I think that that will be helpful to Jacksonville.”

Curry says he will continue talking with state lawmakers ahead of next year’s legislative session.