The legislature showed tremendous financial restraint by not bonding money and potentially sending our state into debt.
By Dan Peterson
Florida lawmakers should be commended for their wise and forward-looking priorities reflected in their environmental appropriations agreed to this past weekend. They recognized the Everglades for what it is: a state treasure worthy of additional funds ($81.8 million) to enable critical restoration projects to move forward.
Additionally, the $20 million allocated for land purchases for the purpose of bringing improvement to the Kissimmee River is a great compliment. Targeting the restoration of natural springs, to the sum of $47.5 million, will help areas all over the central and northern parts of our state.
Also, considering more than 28 percent of Florida land is already in conservation, $17.4 million apportioned for Florida Forever is an appropriate designation. The legislature showed tremendous financial restraint by not bonding money and potentially sending our state into debt. While interest rates may be low, debt is debt.
With dedicated, recurring Amendment 1 revenue guaranteed for 20 years, it is good government policy to reject incurring additional debt unless absolutely necessary. Amendment 1 called for money to be used: “to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands…including the Everglades…”
While some from the more extreme side of environmentalism will criticize these allocations because they insisted land buying should be the priority, Floridians who voted for Amendment 1 should be pleased that positive steps toward the intended purpose of the voter-approved funds will be taken. Legislators have honored the will of the people and negotiated effectively for the good of our state.
Dan Peterson is the Director of the Center for Property Rights at The James Madison Institute.