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Plans remain for a Moffitt Cancer Center campus in Pasco despite DeSantis' veto

 Aerial photo of the planned Moffitt Cancer Center campus. The Suncoast Parkway is in the background
Moffitt Cancer Center
Aerial photo of the planned Moffitt Cancer Center campus location. The Suncoast Parkway is in the background

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a line item in the upcoming state budget that would have provided about $600 million in recurring money over the next 30 years for the project.

Plans to build a new biotech campus for Moffitt Cancer Center in Pasco County are on hold - at least temporarily - after Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed funding for it in the upcoming state budget.

About $600 million in recurring money over the next 30 years would have gone to Moffitt project.

“I do not support the provision of funding that would tie the state to a long-term, 30-year commitment that inhibits budget flexibility,” DeSantis wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Cord Byrd. "These state funds could be used to support more than $300 million of bonding capacity that would impact the state's debt capacity without any state oversight."

Despite the veto, plans are still in place for the campus on a a 775-acre plot off the Suncoast Parkway at State Road 52 in west Pasco.
Bill Cronin, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, considers this a temporary setback.

"It's definitely a kick in the gut, but not insurmountable," Cronin said. "I mean, I think the theme here that I hope people recognize is perseverance, in that we'll work hard and we'll continue to work hard to be able to get things done."

The project is expected to serve as a hub for cancer research, education and patient care, The first phase of the project could provide up to 8,500 jobs, including construction and full- and part-time employment in the facilities.

The park will include facilities for cancer research and health, a hospital, and possible cancer and health oriented facilities from other enterprises.

The first phase of the project was expected to continue until 2025. Phase 2 will involve building a research facility and other buildings in the area.

Cronin said the veto could delay some of the planned building phases.

"We'll continue to press on and try to find complimentary or supplementary or even alternative funding," he said. "But there's enough there to get this going, keep going and it's the phasing I think that will be impacted the most."

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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.