TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami / NSF) – Governor Ron DeSantis would get more than he asked for Everglades restoration and water projects next year as part of an initial Senate budget proposal that also includes a grant program to combat sea level rise .
In addition, the Senate is proposing an increase in money for the state’s sources, a reduction in the Florida Forever conservation program, and efforts to help the citrus industry market orange juice.
The Senate’s Agriculture, Environment and General Funds Subcommittee on Wednesday tabled a $ 6.1 billion spending plan that includes $ 786 million for Everglades restoration and water projects, which is an additional $ 161 million would be when DeSantis had requested.
The proposal would allocate $ 29 million to launch a local government funding program to combat the effects of sea level rise and flooding.
DeSantis has also suggested that the state could use the money it expects from the American Rescue Plan Act’s new stimulus package to aid sea-level resilience efforts.
However, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee, Ben Albritton, said the Senate’s proposal did not take into account the one-time infusion of federal funds.
The Senate released a series of initial budget proposals on Wednesday as the first step in a process that will ultimately result in House and Senate leaders negotiating a spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The budget panels are expected to release initial budgets on Thursday.
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The Senate proposal puts $ 17.7 million in citrus fruit protection and research. Another $ 12.5 million is set to help the citrus industry capitalize on the surge in people buying orange juice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have a bump in orange juice consumption because of COVID,” Albritton said. “But the way the industry sees it is that it doesn’t stay that way forever. So we need to invest resources and funds to ensure that orange juice and citrus products, with their vitamin C and disease-fighting abilities, are at the fore for the consumer. “
The Senate’s proposal also budgeted $ 75 million to restore the state’s natural resources, up $ 25 million from the current year. $ 70 million for water storage before entering Lake Okeechobee from the north; $ 50 million for beach restoration work; $ 30 million for state park improvements; $ 21.7 million to continue the fight against harmful blue-green algae and red tides; and $ 348 million in potable and wastewater loan programs.
Another $ 56.6 million would be used for land acquisition programs, including $ 50 million for the Florida Forever program, which received $ 100 million in the current fiscal year.
Another $ 1.2 million would go towards restoration work on oysters in Apalachicola Bay.
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