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Capitol Update: Florida Forever & Highways

published on: May 1, 2019

Thank you so much for your advocacy over the past few weeks. Thousands of FCV members and supporters like you took the time to contact their elected officials about the importance of protecting our waters and natural lands.

The good news from last night: the agreed upon budget reflects another record year for funding Everglades restoration and other water quality projects up and down the coast. Much of this funding was made available by the voters who approved the 2014 Water & Land Conservation Amendment. This progress would not have been possible without your advocacy on behalf of our environment.

The bad news: unfortunately, the legislature has once again severely underfunded our state’s most-important suite of land conservation programs, Florida Forever. Leadership agreed to spend only $33 million on this program (limiting funding to projects on the Florida Forever list but providing nothing for rural and family lands or local parks). This year’s amount is a far cry from the $300 million this program received for decades. It is also well short of both last year’s $100 million appropriation and Governor Ron DeSantis’ budget recommendation this year of $100 million.

To say we are upset would be an understatement. But the Conservation Voter Movement is just that: a movement. It means that we aren’t swayed by the day to day setbacks or gains. We are in this for the long-haul and our progress is measured over years.

We are inspired by the many legislators who spoke up publicly for conservation funding this year, including Reps. Kionne McGhee, Loranne Ausley, Ben Diamond, Evan Jenne, Margaret Good, Anna Eskamani, Delores Hogan Johnson, and Jennifer Webb and Senators Linda Stewart, Darryl Rouson, and Bill Montford. There were certainly more who spoke up behind the scenes (including staff) and we thank them too.

In other news, the bad highways bill that we have warned you about for weeks passed today in the House. The bill is now final and will head to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. We owe a debt of thanks to Reps. Margaret Good, Delores Hogan Johnson, Anna Eskamani, Bobby DuBose, and others who spoke against this bad idea.

But this is definitely not the last time you will hear from us about these issues. Your voice will be needed in the coming weeks and months as we fight to protect Florida’s water, wildlife, and wild places from absolute destruction. Stay tuned for more information as session comes to a close.

Again, thank you for all your hard work this session. Engaging in Florida’s political process is the single best thing you can do to protect our environment and healthy communities for everyone. Please stay tuned for more in-depth breakdowns of the 2019 Florida Legislative Session from us in coming days and weeks.