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Monday, 15 June 2015 09:08

Four million Florida voters should be angry!

Written by  News reports compilation by Team SCPA

Posted June 15, 2015 -- updated 12:05pm

Amendment 1, cont'd.

4,000,000 Florida voters should be angry!

SCPA Editor note: Bottom line appears to be, as feared, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Sen. Alan Hays and others managed to thwart desired funding as provided by Amendment 1, Water and Land Conservation. Only $17.4 million for Florida Forever land acquisition program! Some Amendment 1 money even being used to pay salary of secretary in administration office? Environmental community angry. Four millions voters should be angry, too. Litigation seems certain to follow.

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Legislature cools on buying land through Amendment 1

Daily commercial, by Lloyd Dunkelberger, Tallahassee Bureau, June 15, 2015

… as lawmakers head into the final week of their special session, it is clear that they are not viewing the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment as a priority in the new state budget.

"I think we're going to be lucky to see $100 million on land acquisition generally," said Eric Draper, a lobbyist for Florida Audubon.

Audubon was part of an environmental coalition that was asking lawmakers to put $155 million into Florida Forever. Gov. Rick Scott recommended $100 million.

But as the House and Senate headed into their final budget negotiations, the Senate had $37 million for Florida Forever and the House was at $15 million. The land acquisition totals will be boosted by other initiatives, including programs for protecting springs, rural land easements, the Kissimmee River and Lake Apopka.

Lawmakers will also provide funding for Everglades restoration, although likely well short of the $150 million that Gov. Scott called for. And overall land-buying total won't be anywhere close to the $300 million that Florida Forever once had. …

… "We're far from where we need to be," said Sen. Thad Altman, R-Rockledge.

… Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, who oversees the budgets for the state environmental agencies, said he supports using the Amendment 1 funding for programs "other than purchasing more acreage."

"I would suspect that the majority of the Legislature feels that we have enough land already with the exception of some specific property that is necessary for springs protection, wildlife corridors or beach projects," Hays said, saying roughly 10 million acres or a third of the state is under public ownership. …

… Draper said Hays' conservation land figure is inflated by large military bases in the Panhandle and vast stretches of the Everglades in South Florida that are underwater, arguing that many important environmental properties deserve protection in a state with 19 million residents. …

… "What we will do is continue to organize public and political support for land acquisition being an environmental strategy, and somehow we have to get past those members of the Legislature who have substituted their personal and ideological values for the voters," Draper said.

http://www.dailycommercial.com/news/article_fb6d3bfd-72ac-50b9-a09a-4d5eb0b74075.html

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House, Senate agree to Amendment 1, environmental funding

Tampa Bay Times, The Buzz, by Michael Austen, June 14, 2015

… $55 million will go to buying new land, including in the state's existing Florida Forever and rural and family land program.s

Another $47.5 million will go to springs restoration and $81.8 million will be used for Everglades restoration.

That doesn't all come out of the money set aside by Amendment 1, which passed last November with the support of 75 percent of voters.

But much of the Amendment 1 dollars will go into administering programs that were previously funded with other sources. Senate Budget Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, says those are critical to the state's environmental and conservation efforts. …

…Bonding or no bonding, Florida Audubon Society executive director Eric Draper said the Legislature dropped an opportunity by not putting more money in to new environmental projects.

"This is a legislature that has underperformed for the environment," he said. "Nobody's going to give them a gold star for continuing to pay the salary of the secretary in the administration office."

Many, including House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, have previously suggested that litigation could be coming if the full $700 million-plus isn't spent directly on land acquisition and conservation. ...

 http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/house-senate-find-agreement-on-amendment-1-environmental-funding/2233692

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Lawmakers make deal on environmental spending; Audubon angry

The News Service of Florida, by Brandon Larrabee, June 15, 2015

Tallahassee – Lawmakers agreed on hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental spending during a meeting Sunday night, but  …

… In all, the deal sets aside $81.8 million for Everglades restoration, $55 million to buy land and $47.5 million in funding for restoration of the state's natural springs. ...

The largest share of the land-buying money, $20 million, will go toward improvements to the Kissimmee River, while another $17.4 million will go to the state's Florida Forever land acquisition program. The state will also spend $15 million on protection easements and agreements on private land. ...

… "This is the do-nothing Legislature for the environment," he said.

Draper said lawmakers should have spent $100 million to $150 million on land buys alone to comply with the amendment. He didn't rule out the possibility of a lawsuit arguing that lawmakers weren't following the Constitution.

"I think there are reasons to think that that's in the realm of the possible," Draper said. He noted that there are "probably 4 million angry Floridians right now." …

http://www.news-press.com/story/news/2015/06/15/lawmakers-make-deal-environmental-spending-audubon-angry/71236042/

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Compiled by Team SCPA

 

Last modified on Monday, 15 June 2015 13:48
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