TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis released his Florida Leads budget, which sustains historic levels of environmental funding, including $625 million for Everglades restoration and water quality protection, and an increased investment of $180 million for addressing coastal resiliency. Here is what environmental leaders and stakeholders are saying about the proposed budget:
“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 also 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. We look forward to working with the Florida Legislature as they form their budget,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO, Everglades Foundation.
"Audubon is glad to see the Governor’s continued appropriations commitment to Everglades, springs and water quality restoration, as well as critical investment in Florida Forever. Importantly, there is a proposed new investment in climate change adaptation. Protecting resources before they are lost is always less expensive than restoration later. Investing in water and wildlands protects our quality of life and Florida's economy," said Julie Wraithmell, executive director, Audubon Florida.
“Governor DeSantis continues to prioritize Florida’s environment through a significant and ongoing commitment to Everglades restoration, water quality, and coral and spring protections in his Florida Leads budget. We are grateful for this critical funding that will make sure our state’s iconic fisheries and landscapes endure for future generations," said Kellie Ralston, Southeast Fisheries Policy Director, American Sportfishing Association.
“It is great to see Governor DeSantis honoring his commitment to protect Florida's environment with record levels of funding once again. Clean and usable waterways are the backbone of Florida’s economy, and it is critical that we continue investing in Everglades restoration projects so we don't have to worry about harmful discharges and red tide," said Captain Daniel Andrews, executive director, Captains for Clean Water.
“Time and time again, we have seen Governor DeSantis’ dedication to Florida’s environment. His continued investments coupled with sustaining momentum are improving water quality, advancing ecosystem restoration efforts, and making a positive difference in our communities. The South Florida Water Management District stands with Governor DeSantis and remains dedicated to expediting and finishing Everglades restoration projects as quickly as possible,” said Chauncey Goss, chairman, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board.
“As usual, this Governor gets it. Now is the time to push harder to ensure the survival of the Everglades and Florida’s waterways while strengthening the state’s economy and creating real jobs. We continue to be proud of his steadfast commitment and refusal to be knocked off course," said Kimberly Mitchell, executive director, Everglades Trust.
“The Governor’s budget demonstrates continued leadership and support of science-based decisions to address three of Florida’s greatest challenges to the vitality of our environment, economy and quality of life. Mote welcomes the opportunity to leverage Governor DeSantis’ proposed Florida Leads budget with private funding and help lead unique public-private partnerships to apply science and technology in expanding coral restoration efforts, building upon significant mitigation and technology advances in the fight against red tide, and implementing Florida’s strategic response to issues of coastal resiliency and impacts of sea level rise," said Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium President and CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby.
"The Governor's commitment of $1 billion over the next four years is an important component of the effort to tackle climate change in our great state. We also see an opportunity to create jobs and reduce pollution by moving to cleaner power and look forward to working with leaders in Tallahassee on those policies as well," said Dawn Shirreffs, Florida Director for Environmental Defense Fund.
“The fact that in the middle of a COVID recession and all that we hear about scarce resources, it is really significant that we have these kinds of commitments from the Governor for the Legislature to consider,” said Miami-Dade County Chief Resiliency Officer Jim Murley.
“Florida’s flooding challenges are no secret, but we know that investing in resilient infrastructure now ensures our communities are better prepared for the future and strengthens the economic prosperity of our State. These investments will create local jobs and businesses, stimulating economic growth here in Florida, and supports our local governments on the frontlines of flooding. Confronting the reality of higher seas, stronger storms and more frequent flooding requires strong leadership, and the investments in this year’s budget proposal are an important downpayment on these urgent issues,” said Alec Bogdanoff, Ph.D., Florida Lead, American Flood Coalition.