Millions of dollars were earmarked for the environment, particularly for continued Everglades restoration and water quality improvements, as part of Governor Ron DeSantis’ proposed $96.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2021-2022 unveiled today at the Florida Capitol.
The governor said that protection of Florida’s vital water resources is one of the most pressing issues facing our state and he has made the environment a key priority.
Upon taking office, the Governor called for $2.5 billion to be invested in Everglades restoration and Florida’s water resources over four years. To date Florida has invested about half that amount, over $1.25 billion over the past two years.
To continue that initiative, the governor’s proposed budget allocates more than $625 million for those causes. This includes over $473 million for Everglades restoration, $50 million for Springs restoration, $145 million for targeted water quality improvements, $40 million for alternative water supply and $25 million to combat harmful algal blooms and red tide.
According to the governor, the budget also addresses the challenges of sea level rise, intensified storm events, and localized flooding by establishing the Resilient Florida program which will provide $1 billion over four years to provide grants to state and local government entities.
The budget includes $82 million to protect Florida’s state parks and waterbodies.
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein said, “This critical funding will allow us to continue to expedite Everglades restoration, improve water quality, conserve and manage state lands and advance coastal resiliency in vulnerable communities. It will enhance the state’s steadfast dedication to improve the health of Florida’s environment and ensure that our natural resources are a legacy for future generations to enjoy.”
The announcement also drew praise from the Everglades Foundation.
CEO Eric Eikenberg said, “On behalf of the Everglades Foundation and countless Everglades enthusiasts, I thank Governor DeSantis for including $625 million for clean water initiatives, including $473 million for Everglades restoration, in his budget recommendations for the next fiscal year. The Governor has been a leader on environmental and water issues in our state, and his continued commitment to our Everglades is the type of direction and stewardship that Florida needs.
“This continued investment in America’s Everglades will not only help build critical water infrastructure that will advance the restoration of a national treasure, but it will create and save jobs, boost our state’s tourism-based economy, and yield tangible benefits for Floridians. This funding has always been important, but it is essential now to support Florida as our economy rebounds from the impacts of the pandemic.”