IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: REACTIONS TO GOV. SCOTT'S BUDGET

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

~Leaders and organizations react to environmental items in Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposal~

Gov. Rick Scott Proposes $74.2 Billion Budget Tampa Bay Times

On the environment, Scott wants to steer more money into programs than in his two previous budgets by earmarking $75 million for the Florida Forever land-buying program and another $60 million for the state's share of Everglades restoration.

"It's starting to put environmental spending back on track where it used to be,'' said Eric Draper of Audubon of Florida. "Gov. Scott is starting to make the environment a priority. This does seem like a different Gov. Scott. We're seeing his office listening more."

What They’re Saying: Rick Scott’s $74.2 Billion Agenda ‘Is All About Growth’ Sunshine State News

The Florida Forever Coalition said, “The governor’s Florida Forever budget recommendation is a positive step forward for Florida. His $75 million recommendation puts Florida Forever back on the right track. With the economy recovering, it is important to allocate funds to preserve our state’s natural areas and protect the places that make Florida special. We look forward to working alongside the governor this legislative session to advocate for the appropriation of funds for Florida Forever.”

Florida Governor Scott’s Budget Brings Cheers For Environmental Items The News-Press

With $75 million earmarked for the Florida Forever land buying program and another $60 million for the Everglades, Scott’s spending blueprint met with applause Thursday from environmentalists encouraged by a seeming re-commitment to their causes.

Environmentalists say they will watch to see where the money comes from but at first blush are encouraged at funding levels of Florida Forever and the Everglades , which have been hit hard by recent tough fiscal times.

“This is really good news on both fronts,” said Eric Draper Executive Director of Audubon Florida. “It’s the first time in several years that we will see over $130 million in potential funding for both these programs.”

Scott’s budget breakdown: Courts & Environment Orlando Sentinel

Scott’s budget proposal includes $60 million for Everglades restoration, an increase of $30 million from last year’s appropriation.

The proposal matches a budget request from the Everglades Foundation, which said more money was critical to enact a water quality plan that was agreed upon by the state and federal government.

“We strongly support his recommendation to provide $60 million for Everglades restoration,” said Eric Eikenberg, Everglades Foundation Chief Executive Officer. “We appreciate the governor’s commitment to Everglades restoration and we believe the Florida Legislature will more than match his recommendation. “

The environmental budget also calls for $75 million for the Florida Forever program, a $66 million increase, to buy environmentally sensitive lands.

Budget: Governor Requests More Money For Conservation Land-buying, Everglades Restoration The Florida Current

Some environmental groups praised what they said was the governor's new commitment to land-buying. Scott vetoed spending for land buying in 2011 before requesting $15 million in 2012.

"It feels like we have turned a corner with Governor Scott," said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida and chairman of the Florida Forever Coalition. "This budget seems to be a good environmental budget."

The budget request also includes $25 million for beach restoration, $19 million for state park improvements, $6 million for springs protection, and $3 million for Apalachicola River stormwater projects and a flow study.

Scott's $74.2 Billion State Budget Draws Measured Support From Area Lawmakers Naples Daily News

While the dollars for education may be one of the highlights of Scott's budget, the spending plan also called for spending more on key environmental programs, such as the Florida Forever land-buying program and Everglades restoration.