Governor signs pact with Seminole Tribe of Florida

“Today’s bill signing is the last step in a historic effort that benefits both the Seminole Tribe and the entire state of Florida,” Florida Governor Charlie Crist told Historic City News reporters. “Following three years of healthy debate and deliberation, the children and families of Florida are now the beneficiaries of much-needed money that will be used to fund critical needs such as education.”

This is the third try for the Governor to enter into a pact that some experts say the state had no choice but to make. One difference between version 3 and previous versions is that the state money has no strings attached; earlier, Crist wanted to earmark it exclusively for education.

The original agreement between the State and Seminole Tribe in 2007 was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court — because they say Crist exceeded his authority by failing to first seek the Legislature’s approval.

Last year, a House committee torpedoed the second agreement because it allowed more expansion of gambling than lawmakers could accept.

The third time around, Crist made sure he had the legislators on board.

Today Crist said, “With this signing, Florida has the immediate use of $250 million, already on hand, and makes way for even more revenue to meet the needs of our state for decades to come – a total of $1.2 billion during the first five years.”

Some experts said that if no agreement was reached with the State, the Tribe would simply go directly to the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs within the Department of Interior; leaving Florida out-of-the-loop. Gaming is allowed on tribal land under a pact with the federal government and there are no provisions for an individual state to tax that activity.

“I want to thank Senator Dennis Jones and Chairman Bill Galvano for helping secure a favorable compact for the Sunshine State,” said Crist. “The compact’s approval is an example of elevating problem-solving over ideology.”

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