A measure to set aside $100 million a year through the Florida Forever land-preservation program moved a step closer Wednesday to Senate approval.
According to a story from the News Service of Florida, the Florida Senate positioned the bill (SB 370) for a vote next week. It would use money from a 2014 voter-approved constitutional amendment aimed at increasing land and water conservation.
Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, sponsor of the bill, said “The ($100 million) number is not a magic number, but it is commensurate with when you look at how funds have been appropriated, via statute, whether it be (for) springs or the Everglades.”
In past years, lawmakers directed at least $200 million a year to the Everglades; $64 million for a reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area; $50 million for the state’s natural springs; and $5 million for Lake Apopka.
The constitutional amendment directed that a portion of money from a real-estate documentary tax go into the land-acquisition trust fund. That is expected to generate $862.2 million next year.
As part of Bradley’s proposal, lawmakers would not be able to use the trust fund money for agency overhead, which has been a point on contention with backers of the 2014 amendment.
Bradley also has a separate measure (SB 204) to increase annual funding for the state’s natural springs to $75 million and to set aside $50 million a year for the restoration of the St. Johns River, its tributaries and the Keystone Heights lake region in North Florida. The bill is also ready to go before the Senate.