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Bills Appropriating Oil Spill Money On Gov. Scott's Desk

(L-R) Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee), Sen. Oscar Braynon (D-Miami), Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) and Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart).
Nick Evans

Gov. Rick Scott has about 10 days to sign legislation appropriating money to counties hit by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A settlement deal gives the state about $2 billion over several years.

The money goes from the state to the Triumph Gulf Coast nonprofit corporation. Counties will get 75 percent of what is given to the state, with a certain percentage going to the hardest hit counties in Northwest Florida. Tallahassee Sen. Bill Montford said the measures make sure the legislature can’t sweep the money for another purpose.

“Within 30 days those funds are to be transferred to Triumph and then put in an interest-bearing account," he said. "Clearly these were not state dollars, quite frankly, these were dollars earmarked for these eight counties.”

Triumph Gulf Coast will award the money to counties based on local government project recommendations. British Petroleum has already given $400 million to the state from the settlement. The company will pay Florida about $107 million yearly starting in 2019 and going through 2033.

"This is a very, very unique opportunity for economic development and growth in North Florida," Montford said. "And the nice thing is it’s a steady stream of income, especially for those long-range projects.”

The legislation increases the number of board members to seven and prohibits former staff from directly benefiting from the money for six years.