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FL House Changes Approach For Environmental Funding But Spending Is Uncertain

US Department of Agriculture

The Florida House is pushing to change how money in one of the state’s primary environmental trust funds is spent.  But most lawmakers were in the dark about how much money the fund will get as the measure went to a vote.

The House has approved a measure putting greater emphasis on using Florida Forever funds to purchase easements on rural agricultural land rather than buying parcels outright.  But Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) worries how much money budgeters will appropriate to the program.

“The original House budget had no funds for the Florida Forever program and that was a great concern to me,” Diamond says.  “I will state that I’m not sure where we are on that issue as it relates to this coming year’s budget, and that makes it harder for me to evaluate this bill.”

In an unusual move, the measure came to the House floor without first passing a single committee.  The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-North Fort Myers) is running for Agriculture commissioner next year.