By Isadora Rangel
March 28, 2017
TALLAHASSEE — The state House wants to cut land conservation funding and, as expected, not fund a reservoir to curb Lake Okeechobee discharges, according to its proposed environmental budget released Tuesday.
The budget also would reduce Everglades and springs restoration funding compared with what the Legislature allocated last year. It also cuts money for the Florida Forever program, which buys land for habitat preservation and parks. There’s no money for muck removal in the Indian River Lagoon, either.
However, the House would boost funding to get homeowners off septic tanks, which can pollute waterways, and to connect them to sewer systems with $25 million in aid to local governments. Gov. Rick Scott has asked for $40 million for conversions in areas affected by algae blooms, such as the lagoon and St. Lucie River.
The main strain on this year’s budget is declining state general revenue, and budget writers tried to prioritize “people” and “families,” said Rep. Ben Albritton, chairman of the House environmental and agriculture budget committee. He said his proposal preserves jobs by cutting only the currently vacant full-time positions within environmental and agricultural agencies.