The comments below were given to the House Appropriations Committee on March 31, 2021 by Executive Director Aliki Moncrief.
Unfortunately, we cannot support this bill today. It is no secret that sea level rise and water quality are problems in Florida, and I applaud this body for taking this issue so seriously this session. But, this funding plan is not the best way nor is it the only way to complete this important work. Climate and environmental justice begins with acknowledging that not all people are affected by a crisis in the same way. And as the state begins to really look at addressing impacts like sea level rise and flooding, we have an opportunity and an obligation to ensure that we don’t exacerbate inequitable social conditions along the way.
According to our friends and allies at the Sadowski Housing Coalition, if this bill is signed into law this year, funding for the Sadowski Trust Funds would be reduced from $423.3 million to $141 million. The SHIP program would be reduced from $296 million to $99 million – drastically reducing the amount of SHIP funds each of the 119 participating local governments receive to fund affordable housing goals.
The misdirection of documentary stamp funds away from their traditional and voter-approved uses has been a long-standing source of frustration for Florida residents. Since 2015, the Florida Legislature has misappropriated approximately $1.5 billion of funds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, despite the explicit direction given in Article X, Section 28 of the Florida Constitution. Similarly, affordable housing advocates have also seen large sums diverted away from relevant trust funds into general revenue to the detriment of renters and vulnerable Floridians across the state.
Wastewater treatment infrastructure upgrades and climate resilience are critical issues that many organizations have championed and continue to support. However, we stand with our Housing Justice allies and reject any attempt to fund these programs at the expense of affordable housing. This funding reallocation creates a false choice between protecting the environment, preparing for the future, and protecting Florida’s most vulnerable residents. Please find another way to do this important work. Thank you.