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Politics

Florida Water Supply Focus of House Review into Governor’s Environmental Budget

February 6, 2013 - 6:00pm


Gov. Rick Scotts $2.9 billion environmental fiscal plan moved through its first House budget review Thursday with few impediments breaking the surface.

However, the chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee wants to take an in-depth look into several portions of the plan -- water, beach renourishment, a potential land preservation inventory, and water management districts -- before recommendations are made on the governors fiscal package.

I want the members to learn more about this waste water and storm water, and it really boils down to the topic of water, said Committee Chairman Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula.

In the next 10 to 20 years, the topic that will keep this Capitol alit is going to be water. So as chairman I believe a better educated commission makes better decisions and my goal is to talk about water a lot.

Scotts budget for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Agricultural and Consumer Services, Citrus and the Department of Environmental Protection overall is down $28.6 million, with a big chunk the elimination of 156 positions, from the current fiscal year.

Among his proposals, Scott is asking for:

-- $60 million for Everglades restoration.

-- $75 million for land acquisition and Florida Forever.

-- $25 million for beach projects.

-- $135 million for the petroleum tank cleanup program.

-- $215.6 million for the construction of drinking and waste water facilities.

-- $7.1 million for natural spring protection.

-- $5 million for citrus research and protection.

-- $3 million for Apalachicola Bay, including a study on what is needed to revive the ill Panhandle waterway.

-- $8 million to fix the levee system in Palm Beach County which was exposed last year during Tropical Storm Isaac.

-- $3.8 million for the continued eradication of giant African land snails from South Florida.

-- $3.1 million for new wildfire fighting equipment.

-- $2.5 million to build up the states school lunch program.

For Albritton, advancing Floridas farm-to-school lunch program is a priority.

The opportunity to connect farmers to the plate were giving our children, what a huge opportunity, especially in a state that can grow almost anything, nearly year round, Albritton said.

Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, the Democratic ranking member of the committee, praised the proposal to improve flood control in West Palm Beach. Meanwhile, Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, questioned the land snail program that is projected to last five years.

Maybe by the time Im out of my term well have them eradicated, Mayfield said.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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