Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GOP Picks King as Senate Leader

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GOP Picks King as Senate Leader

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Saunders, Times-Union staff writer

TALLAHASSEE -- When Republicans picked Jim King yesterday to become the next president of the Florida Senate, it was the crowning achievement of King's 16 years in public office.

But for Northeast Florida, the Jacksonville Republican's rise to one of the most powerful jobs in the state also could trigger a period of increased money and attention.

As president, King likely will have the power to funnel state tax dollars to local education, transportation and environmental projects. At the same time, he will be in a position to help Northeast Florida political and community leaders push through changes.

"I think it's huge [for Northeast Florida]," said former House Speaker John Thrasher, R-Orange Park. "You can never underestimate the powerful role of that leadership position."

Among the key issues that King said he could tackle: trying to narrow a gap in the amount of money that Northeast Florida public schools receive compared with schools in South Florida. That gap stems, in part, from Northeast Florida's relatively low cost of living -- a factor that Duval and Clay County officials have long criticized.

Also, King could address some of his longtime pet projects for Northeast Florida. They include getting state tax dollars to develop a park along Sisters Creek on Jacksonville's Northside and taking steps to prevent the demolition of the Rodman dam in Putnam County.

"I think it goes without saying that there's a tremendous advantage to having the gavel and being able to represent your constituency," said King, who represents all or parts of five counties.

After months of political wrangling, Senate Republicans yesterday unanimously chose King to replace President John McKay, R-Bradenton, after the November elections. …

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