Governor Rick Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget recommends $3.9 billion to protect and enhance Florida’s environment. The Governor’s investments will provide a direct benefit to Florida’s environment by improving water quality, enhancing water supplies, protecting the state’s natural lands and waterways, and restoring beaches. The “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget recommends continuing Florida’s significant investments in Everglades restoration, springs protection projects, and Florida’s award-winning state park system.
Governor Scott said, “Florida is proud to be home to the nation’s most beautiful natural resources, from our freshwater springs and sandy white beaches to the iconic Everglades. Our environment is important to our families, our economy and our way of life, and I am committed to ensuring our natural and water resources remain protected long into the future. Last year, I signed the Legacy Florida bill to ensure our children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy these valuable resources, and I’m proud to continue to build on our commitment to protecting Florida’s environment by investing nearly $4 billion through the ‘Fighting for Florida’s Future’ Budget.”
Governor Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget includes:
- $225 million for Everglades restoration – Last year, Governor Scott signed the Legacy Florida bill, ensuring a dedicated source of funding for Everglades restoration and springs protection projects. His “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget goes over-and-above that commitment by recommending $225 million to benefit the iconic Everglades ecosystem. This includes significant investments in key restoration projects, including: $32 million in recurring state funding that is part of the Governor’s $880 million Everglades water quality plan; $140 million for the completion of state’s portion of the C-44 reservoir, and the continued investment in the C-43 reservoir, which will together provide 75 billion gallons of water storage east and west of Lake Okeechobee once complete; and $53 million for other Everglades restoration projects.
- $111 million for beach restoration and renourishment – This is the highest amount of funding for Florida’s beaches since Governor Scott took office. Recognizing the importance of well-nourished and maintained beaches for the environment, economy and way of life, Governor Scott is recommending funding to protect, preserve and restore Florida’s world-renowned beaches and dune systems. This includes $61 million to help communities recover from damages impacting their beaches during this past hurricane season. This is in addition to the $15.8 million in state funds for emergency beach restoration projects Governor Scott announced last week. Governor Scott is also proposing $50 million to fully fund Beach Restoration and Nourishment Project requests submitted to DEP’s Beach Management Funding Assistance Program for the upcoming fiscal year. This funding will be used to restore and maintain critically eroded beaches across the state.
- $100 million for alternative water supply projects – These projects are essential to ensuring a clean and safe supply of water for Florida’s natural resources and growing population. Funding will be focused on critical needs through working with water management districts, local communities and established regional water supply partnerships.
- $65 million for springs restoration and protection projects – Surpassing last year’s record investment of $50 million, Governor Scott is recommending a historic investment of $65 million in springs restoration and protection projects. This funding will build on the state’s investment of $135 million over the past four years, which has been leveraged with local match funding for a total investment of more than $267.8 million to protect Florida’s famous springs for future generations.
- $60 million for Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee Cleanup Initiative – The funding includes $40 million for a 50/50 state matching grant program with local communities affected by algal blooms that the region experienced last year. This voluntary program will provide funding to encourage residents to move from septic tanks to sewer systems in order to curb pollution that is currently entering these water bodies. Additionally, this proposal will support local communities to help build wastewater systems to meet the increased demand for wastewater services. Funding also includes $20 million for muck dredging and other capital improvement projects needed to improve water quality and reduce sources of pollution in these waterways.
- $50 million for Florida State Parks – This funding includes $40 million for facility improvements for Florida’s award-winning state park system, which welcomed a record 31 million visitors last year. This includes an additional $4 million for ADA projects focused on making parks more accessible to all visitors, and $6 million for other projects important to the maintenance and management of state parks.
- $55 million for land acquisition – The budget recommends $10 million for the acquisition of key projects identified as of part of the Florida Forever program, an additional $5 million for acquisition dedicated to the protection of the Florida Keys, and $10 million for the Florida Communities Trust program. It also proposes $30 million for land acquisition to advance the Northern Everglades restoration effort, which will help reduce harmful discharges to the downstream estuaries, improve water quality in Lake Okeechobee and benefit the water supply for Floridians and the state’s natural resources.
- $22.2 million for Wastewater Treatment Facility Storm Preparedness grant program – Following a series of sewer overflows that occurred during Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, Governor Scott directed DEP to investigate the overflows and identify underlying causes and potential solutions. This funding will allow DEP to provide grants to local governments and utilities to promote better storm preparedness and prevent future overflows. The Wastewater Treatment Facility Storm Preparedness grant program will offer up to a 75 percent state matching grant with local communities and will be dependent on the size of the facility, with smaller facilities being eligible for a higher level of matching assistance.
“Through the ‘Fighting for Florida’s Future Budget,’ Governor Scott continues to make historic investments in our state’s many natural treasures and the communities surrounding them,” said DEP Secretary Jon Steverson. “Florida’s unique environment is known across the globe and helps attract millions of families to our state each year. DEP looks forward to continuing to work each day to preserve and protect these natural resources for future generations to enjoy.”
“It’s exciting to see the recommended funding for septic-to-sewer projects,” said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida. “We hope these funds will provide an incentive to local governments to address water pollution from septic tanks.”
“The Nature Conservancy appreciates Governor Scott investing in projects that are important to improving water quality and helping to protect and restore some of Florida’s most treasured natural places” said Temperince Morgan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Florida.
“Through this budget, Governor Scott continues to demonstrate that investing in water supply and wastewater projects is vital to the long-term sustainability and reliability of Florida’s water and wastewater infrastructure, the health of its communities and the environment,” said Gary Williams, executive director of Florida Rural Water Association.
“Our coastal communities and local governments are most appreciative of Governor Scott’s budget commitment to sustaining and repairing Florida’s beaches. It is further evidence of his recognition and appreciation of the economic importance of healthy beaches to tourism, storm damage reduction, and our quality of life,” said Deborah Flack, president of Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association. “FSBPA’s members are further grateful to the Governor for raising awareness of the need to proactively preserve our beaches. His budget commitment of over $111 million for supplemental hurricane damages and increased traditional program funding make him a true champion on behalf of Florida’s beaches.”
“We’re grateful to Governor Scott for his commitment to Florida State Parks, including a focus on increasing accessibility for all visitors to enjoy the best state parks in the nation,” said Paula Russo, president of Friends of Florida State Parks.
“We commend the Governor for his commitment to continuing to support and grow Florida’s famous network of greenways and trails, especially in small communities,” said Joe Beckham, president of Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation.
“We are pleased that this year’s budget will enable significant improvements to the accessibility of our state parks so that more individuals will be able to enjoy their beauty and recreational opportunities,” said David C. Jones, president of Florida Disabled Outdoors Association. “FDOA looks forward to continuing to work with Florida State Parks on inclusion for all individuals in their pursuit for outdoor recreation.”