For Immediate Release: April 17, 2016
Contact: Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director, [email protected], 850-443-7609 or Jonathan Webber, Deputy Director, [email protected], 954-593-4449
Press Webinar Audio: http://fcv.rocks/2oGpRkl
Additional Materials and Graphics: http://fcv.rocks/2prsTdp
State Budget Leaders Come Up Short on Land Conservation (Again)
The will of the voters continues to be ignored.
Tallahassee, FL (April 17, 2017) – Today, Florida Conservation Voters’ Aliki Moncrief held a press webinar on the 2017 state budget proposals regarding spending from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF).
Outside of the Everglades, the current budget proposals look grim when it comes to acquiring new parks and protecting conservation lands as directed by the 2014 Water and Land Conservation Amendment. The proposed budgets allocate only a fraction of LATF money to actual land conservation programs.
In the House budget, Florida Communities Trust (FCT) would receive only $10 million, and both Rural and Family Lands (RFL) and Florida Forever would receive $0. The Senate’s budget allocation was only slightly better with $5.3 million to FCT, $0 to RFL, and $15.2 million to acquiring lands on the Florida Forever priority list. All in all, both chambers will have a lot of work to do to improve the budget in order to meet the intent of voters.
Lack of available funds is not the problem. The March 2017 Revenue Estimating Conference projects $822 million available for the 2017-2018 fiscal year from the Water and Land Conservation Amendment. The estimated debt service amount is $166 million.
“The words ‘Land Acquisition Trust Fund’ are hard to misinterpret,” said Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters (FCV). “When Floridians said ‘yes’ to the Water and Land Conservation Amendment in 2014, they sent a clear message to the legislature that they wanted more parks and public conservation lands. Voters never intended for the Amendment to pay for state agencies’ tech support and office furniture.”
Had the sponsors and supporters of the 2014 amendment intended to prioritize water supply and water resource development over land conservation, they could have chosen to fund any number of other environmental trust funds, such as the Water Quality Assurance Trust Fund, Drinking Water Revolving Loan Trust Fund, Wastewater Treatment and Stormwater Management Revolving Loan Trust Fund, Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund of DEP, among others.
FCV was the sponsor committee of the Water and Land Conservation Amendment, which was passed by Florida voters in 2014 with nearly 75% voter approval.
The conservation community in Florida launched the amendment campaign in 2012 because of drastic cuts made to Florida Forever and conservation. Thousands of volunteers collected a quarter million signatures to place the amendment on the ballot, which then passed with 75 percent voter approval in 2014.
Since its passage, the Florida Legislature has dedicated little to no money to Florida Forever and has instead diverted roughly a quarter of Land Acquisition Trust Fund monies to daily agency operating expenses.
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Florida Conservation Voters started in 2012 as a coalition of Florida’s conservation organizations united towards passing Amendment 1, the Water and Land Conservation Amendment. As of 2015 we are an independent 501(c)4 organization with the mission of electing pro-conservation candidates to public office. For more information, visit www.fcvoters.org.