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Legislature Budgets, Greens Go To Court

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A lawsuit filed Friday in a Leon County circuit court accuses the Legislature of a massive sleight of hand. As Jim Ash reports, environmentalists are charging more than 230 million dollars were siphoned off from Amendment 1 programs for other things.

State salaries. Insurance. Firefighting equipment. The lawsuit says that’s where some of the diverted money is going.

“We wanted constitutional language securing for conservation lands which have a lot of benefits for waters, outdoor recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, excetera, excetera.”

That’s Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation and one of the authors of Amendment 1.

Senate President Andy Gardiner claims  lawmakers spent more on the environment than Amendment 1 demands. Before the session, he worried about other programs that would have to be cut.

“The challenge facing the Senate is the impact on Amendment 1 on other areas that are also funded by doc stamp revenues, specifically, transportation, affordable housing and economic development.”

The lawsuit says the missing Amendment 1 money should come from a reserve fund.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.