Misuse Of Money Meant For Conservation Land

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Environmental groups contend that the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature is again snubbing voters who want the state to purchase conservation land.

They say the budget the Legislature is now considering violates Amendment 1, passed overwhelmingly in 2014, directing that a third of the revenue from documentary stamp taxes on real estate transactions go to buy land.

The Florida Wildlife Federation and other groups are already suing the state over the same issue from the current state budget passed a year ago. They contend it spends less than 10 percent of the available $596 million for land purchases, and misappropriates $237 million for purposes ranging from salaries and equipment to liability insurance.

Legislators say the amendment didn’t say the money could go only for land purchases, and included management and restoration.