Gaps Emerge on Florida Forever

Clint Thompson Florida

File photo from 2017 shows the Florida Legislature at work.

The Florida Forever land-conservation program is just one issue shaping up as an early front in the negotiating battles that will take place in the coming weeks as the House and Senate hammer out a final budget for next year. According to the News Service of Florida, the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee released their initial budget proposal Wednesday.

Governor Ron DeSantis made a priority of environmental funding, requesting $625 million for Everglades restoration and other water-related projects. Both the House and Senate budget proposals would exceed that request, while the Senate also would provide more than the $100 million sought by DeSantis for the Florida Forever program.

The Senate proposal would provide $125 million for Florida Forever during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which starts July 1. On Tuesday, the House proposed spending only $20 million on the program. DeSantis wants $100 million for the program, which is only getting $33 million in this year’s budget.

Meanwhile, the Senate is proposing $639 million for water-related projects, of which $322 million would be for ongoing Everglades restoration efforts. The House would spend $646.8 million, with $318.3 million dedicated to the Everglades.

The Senate plan would provide $30 million for efforts to combat algal blooms and red tide. The House is at $22.8 million.