Christian Hunt, Defenders of Wildlife, will talk about Amendment 1, Florida Fore
When 75 percent of Florida voters passed Amendment 1 , supporters hoped it would be a mandate for lawmakers to increase spending on land and water conservation to spare the environment from development before it’s too late.
It was not. Lawmakers have different designs on the money, according to the House and Senate budget proposals
Only 1 percent to 2 percent of the estimated $750 million pot would go to Florida Forever, the conservation land-buying program Amendment 1 was meant to revive after lawmakers gutted its $300 million annual budget during the recession.
Yet $230 million is proposed for certain government agencies’ routine operating expenses — from buying wildlife officers’ patrol vehicles to paying technology and information employees’ salaries and benefits. Millions more are proposed for items Amendment 1 sponsors didn’t envision funding, such as converting septic tanks into sewer lines in the Florida Keys.
Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, the group that drafted Amendment 1 and pushed it on the ballot, is lobbying lawmakers to boost environmental funding instead of just robbing Peter to pay Paul, Executive Director Aliki Moncrief said.
“Voters certainly intended for Amendment 1 to increase funding for land conservation,” Moncrief said, “but the budget proposals currently fall short, particularly when it comes to funding Florida Forever.”
AMENDMENT 1 BALLOT LANGUAGE
“Funds the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites, by dedicating 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents for 20 years.”