Gov. Rick Scott confirmed Monday his budget request for the 2018 legislative session will include $50 million to help speed federal repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.
“These repairs are a priority, and that’s why I’m proposing $50 million in state funding to help expedite the project,” Scott said in a prepared statement.
Scott last week announced a package of environmental spending proposals to go to the Legislature. The News Service of Florida reported at the time that the package would include $50 million to help with dike repairs, but the governor’s office later denied that the money was in the package.
Scott made the announcement Monday in Clewiston with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, in attendance. “The fruits of this investment will mean safety and security for the community surrounding the lake, as well as averting potential environmental dangers,” Corcoran said in a statement released by the governor’s office.
The Legislature included $50 million in this year’s budget to help speed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ ongoing repairs to the dike. Also, President Donald Trump, last week, directed Mick Mulvaney, the chief of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to accelerate the work. Trump previously set aside $82 million for the work in his proposed 2018 budget.
The remaining work has been projected to cost up to $930 million. The Army Corps since 2001 has spent more than $870 million on projects designed to reduce the risk of “catastrophic failure” to the aging 143-mile earthen dam that also features levees, hurricane gates, and other water-control structures, according to the Army Corps.
Scott’s broader environmental-budget proposal released last week includes increased funding for the state’s springs, beaches, and parks, along with $355 million for Everglades restoration and $50 million for Florida Forever, the state’s most prominent land-preservation fund.