Conservation Groups Take Aim At Budget Surplus

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Environmental groups want a judge to order the Florida Legislature to use the state’s budget surplus to fund a conservation land buying program, saying state lawmakers flouted the will of voters by failing to fund it.

Groups including the Sierra Club filed the amendment to an earlier lawsuit on Friday in Leon County.

At issue is how the state uses billions of dollars collected by a real estate stamp tax.

Voters passed Amendment 1 last year, which mandated that 33 percent of that money be used for conservation-minded land purchases.

But legislators this year allocated only $55 million for land acquisition and directed hundreds of millions of Amendment 1 funds for the operating expenses at state agencies.