Debate Starts Over How To Use Billions For Florida Environment

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After years of deep cuts to environmental programs, Florida voters last November overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1, which earmarked billions for conservation.

But the measure left it up to the Legislature and governor to determine details of how the money will be spent, and that has led to heated debate.

Gov. Rick Scott is proposing that the Legislature allocate $150 million for Everglades projects, $50 million for springs restoration and another $150 million or more for conservation land acquisition. The Legislature convenes March 3.

What has raised conservationists’ ire is the portion of Scott’s 2015-2016 Amendment 1 budget that proposes spending $63 million for the operations of the Department of Environmental Protection, and other agencies.

The amendment’s authors say voters approved it so the state would buy land and fund water protection projects, not fund state agencies.

Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.