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Proposed 2021-22 state budget: Environmental priorities

By HOLLY SCHWARTZ - | Feb 12, 2021

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget and its priorities will be the focal point of the legislative session that starts on March 2.

The proposed budget is $96.6 billion — a $4.3 billion increase over last year’s adopted budget of $92.3 billion. It includes $625 million for Everglades restoration and protection of Florida’s water resources, for the third year running, to meet the governor’s funding goal of $2.5 billion over four years.

The budget also proposes $1 billion in funding over four years for the Resilient Florida Program. Funding will be made available to state and local governments to better prepare for the impacts of sea-level rise, intensified storm events, and localized flooding. The funding for this program will come from Florida’s Documentary Stamp Tax and will be provided as debt service to bond more than $1 billion in total program funding over four years.

Other environmental budget priorities include a continuation of funds approved last year for water quality such as the clean-up, prevention, and mitigation of harmful algae blooms, funds for septic and wastewater improvements, and project acceleration to curtail nutrient pollution.

Florida Forever, the state’s premier land acquisition program, faces a devastating cut in the proposed budget at $50 million — half of what it received last year and just a fraction of its historical funding of $300 million per year. The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation supports statutorily dedicated funding for the Florida Forever conservation and recreation lands program. Land conservation is critical for supporting Florida’s tourism and nature-based economy.

For more details and for full coverage of the bills that will impact our environment, visit the SCCF’s Legislative Tracker at www.sccf.org/our-work/environmental-policy.

Holly Schwartz is environmental policy assistant for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. Founded in 1967, the SCCF is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed. For more information, visit www.sccf.org.