No Funding for Land Conservation is a Legislative Insult to Voters


Are you one of the 4.2 million voters who supported Amendment 1 in the last election? If so, did you believe a primary purpose of the funding was to finance the purchase of additional natural areas as a way to help protect our water resources, wildlife, rivers, beaches and scenic vistas? The Florida legislature doesn’t believe that is what voters actually had in mind when 75% of them voted for passage of Amendment 1.

Is there another way to explain why the House and Senate budgets include NOTHING for the purchase of land through the Florida Forever Program? Our will as voters is essentially being preempted by the people we pay to represent us in Tallahassee! Unless you like being slapped in the face, let's stop this disenfranchisement once and for all.

$20 million to the Kissimmee River Restoration
project (which is 85% complete) is terrific, but
unacceptable as a budgetary substitute for
Florida Forever project funding.
The Senate budget currently proposes to allocate $2 million to purchase conservation easements. The more “generous” House budget would spend $10 million to purchase conservation easements. Neither chamber proposes to allocate ANYTHING for the purchase of lands that would add to our system of state parks, state forests and wildlife management areas.

Don’t be fooled by smoke and mirrors, like the proposed allocation of $20 million to purchase lands along the Kissimmee River in order to complete restoration of the river. It’s a good project that has been in progress for years and deserves to be funded... but it has nothing to do with Florida Forever.

Amendment 1 requires, in simple-to-understand language, that 33% of annual documentary stamp tax revenues must be dedicated to land and water conservation. Most of us interpreted that to mean a substantial amount of the funding would support the protection of natural areas through the purchase of land. Those revenues are projected to total well over $700 million in the first year alone. Both the Senate and House propose to spend millions to cover existing agency operating costs and fund expensive water supply projects, and NOTHING for Florida Forever.

Contact your Representative, Senator, and
any or all of the politicians listed below to
tell them what you think of the way they've
proposed to spend Amendment 1 funds!
The Legislature’s unwillingness to heed the will of the voters is unconscionable. The overwhelming passage of Amendment 1 is an irrefutable testament to the love Floridians have of their natural areas and the concern we have for their future. Please contact the House and Senate leadership this week and tell them what you think about their budget proposals (contact information is provided at the bottom of this blog). If you can, please take the time to contact your own Representative and Senator as well. Some statements you might want to include in your letters/e-mails:
  • The first year of Amendment 1 spending should allocate at least $350 million for the acquisition of approved Florida Forever projects. That amounts to less than half of first-year revenues!
  • The time for debating whether the people of Florida support additional land purchases has passed. You knew what you were voting for when you voted to pass Amendment 1.
  • Amendment 1 was called the Water and Land Legacy Amendment for a reason. Sewage treatment plants and water supply projects are important, but they aren’t the legacy for future generations that we had in mind on Election Day. Rivers and springs clean enough for swimming and fishing; parks and forests where people can recreate and enjoy nature; beaches where our children can play. THAT is the kind of legacy we want to enjoy for ourselves and leave for those who come after us. 

Top Priority Contacts:

Senate

Senate President Andy Gardiner (Orlando)
Capitol: (850) 487-5229
District: (407) 428-5800
Email: gardiner.andy@flsenate.gov

Senate Budget Chairman Tom Lee (Brandon)
Capitol: (850) 487-5024
District: (813) 653-7061
Email: lee.tom@flsenate.gov

Senate General Government Appropriations Committee Chair Alan Hays (Umatilla)
Capitol: (850) 487-5011
District: (352) 742-6441
Email: hays.alan@flsenate.gov

Senate Budget Vice-Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto (Ft Myers)
Capitol: (850) 487-5030
District: (239) 338-2570
Email: benacquisto.lizbeth@flsenate.gov

House

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (Merritt Island)
Capitol: (850) 488-1450
District: (321) 449-5111
Email: steve.crisafulli@myfloridahouse.gov

House Budget Chairman Richard Corcoran (Lutz)
Capitol: (850) 717-5037
District: (813) 792-5177
Email: richard.corcoran@myfloridahouse.gov

House Ag and Natural Resources Appropriations Chair Ben Albritton (Wauchula)
Capitol: (850) 717-5056
District: (863) 534-0073
Email: ben.albritton@myfloridahouse.gov

House Budget Vice-Chairman Jim Boyd (Bradenton)
Capitol: (850) 717-5071
District: (941) 708-4968
Email: jim.boyd@myfloridahouse.gov

Other Important Contacts:

Senator Joe Negron (Stuart)
Capitol: (850) 487-5032
District: (772) 219-1665
Email: negron.joe@flsenate.gov

Senator Denise Grimsley (Sebring)
Capitol: (850) 487-5021
District: (863) 386-6016
Email: grimsley.denise@flsenate.gov

Senator Charlie Dean (Inverness)
Capitol: (850) 487-5005
District: (352) 860-5175
Email: dean.charles@flsenate.gov

Senator Wilton Simpson (Trilby)
Capitol: (850) 487-5018
District: (352) 540-6074
Email: simpson.wilton@flsenate.gov

Vice-Chair of Senate General Government Appropriations Sen. Oscar Braynon (Miami Gardens)
Capitol: (850) 487-5036
District: (305) 654-7150
Email: braynon.oscar@flsenate.gov

Vice-Chair of House Ag and Nat. Resources Appropriations Rep. Ray Pilon (Sarasota)
Capitol: (850) 717-5072
District: (941) 955-8077
Email: ray.pilon@myfloridahouse.gov

Rep. Greg Steube (Sarasota)
Capitol: (850) 717-5073
District: (941) 341-3117
Email: greg.steube@myfloridahouse.gov
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Posted by Laurie Sheldon 

Comments

Anonymous said…
Please make your voice heard, purchase private lands before it becomes unavailable. The human population here is exploding, wildlife habitat is being fragmented and that is not EVER good for diversity(population gene pools, migrations, natural communities).
Humans are not all there is to life- even cityfolk need nature to provide resource services.
The Jolly Bloggers said…
Agreed! Thanks for reinforcing our message!
I have written to all of the above reps and senators. Maybe we should concentrate on finding an impartial committee to draw the voting district lines so that the majority of us can finally be heard.
The Jolly Bloggers said…
Thanks, Carl. I wish our legislators respected the will of their constituents...

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