More than $577 million in projects that could benefit the Treasure Coast’s environment, beaches, education and citrus industry are included in the $87.4 billion state budget unveiled Tuesday by Gov. Rick Scott.
The budget proposal, titled “Securing Florida’s Future,” is the largest spending plan Scott has proposed. He’ll use it as the basis of his negotiations with legislators on the state budget during the January-to-March legislative session.
Here’s how the Treasure Coast could benefit from Scott’s proposed budget:
Scott wants the Legislature to provide an additional $227 million for the Department of Environmental Protection.
The South Florida Water Management District would get $64 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund toward building the proposed reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. The reservoir would help alleviate lake discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.
The Legislature and Scott approved Senate Bill 10, a plan for the Army Corps of Engineers and the state to each pitch in $800 million to build the 78.2 billion- to 100 billion-gallon reservoir, during this year’s legislative session.
The budget recommendation allots a record $355 million for Everglades restoration projects. They include:
- $50 million to expedite repairs for the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.
- $105 million to the C-43 Reservoir, which will store water going to the Caloosahatchee River estuary during wet periods and provide a source of water during the dry season.
A record $100 million would go toward Florida’s beach restoration projects:
- $50 million to statewide beach and dune restoration, beach renourishment and other coastal restoration projects.
- $50 million toward the state’s share of beach restoration needed because of Hurricane Irma damages.
A new statewide initiative called “Florida Resilient Coastline Initiative” also would receive $3.6 million to assist and educate local governments on coastal resilience projects and sea level rise planning.
The state budget currently allocates $50 million for beach renourishment projects.
Indian River Lagoon
Water management projects along the Indian River Lagoon and the Lake Okeechobee basin would receive a $350,000 grant from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
The Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program would not receive any additional state funding under Scott’s recommended budget. The program received $250,000 from the state’s general revenue fund this year.
Florida Forever, the state’s primary land conservation program, would receive $50 million. The trust acquires land for trails, natural spaces and conservation areas.
Florida Forever received no funding during this year’s legislative session, alarming environmentalists. Lawmakers defunded the program to free up money for the southern reservoir project. The House voted nearly unanimously days later to secure future funding for Florida Forever starting next year.
Florida’s Department of Citrus would receive $21 million:
- $10 million for citrus greening research projects.
- $7 million for the Citrus Health Response Program, to help growers replace trees destroyed by Hurricane Irma and help minimize the spread of citrus greening.
- $4 million would go to citrus marketing efforts.
Indian River State College
The Fort Pierce-based college would receive nearly $47.2 million.
- Nearly $37.5 million from the state’s general revenue fund for operating funds and bachelor’s degrees.
- $9.7 million from the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which is funded by the Florida Lottery.
This article was republished from TCPalm.