Statement by DEP Secretary Hamilton on Governor DeSantis' Freedom First Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23

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Statement by DEP Secretary Hamilton on Governor DeSantis' Freedom First Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23

~Governor's Freedom First Budget Reinforces Commitment to Everglades Restoration, Water Quality Protections, Vital Land Acquisitions and Resiliency of Coastal Communities~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton issues the following statement regarding Governor DeSantis' submittal of his proposed Freedom First budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23 to the Florida Legislature.

“Florida continues to lead the nation in population growth and job growth. Recognizing that Florida’s economy is inextricably linked to its unique environment, Governor DeSantis continues to champion historic investments in Florida's environment and water quality to ensure the delicate balance of environmental protection and a heathy economy is maintained.

“In his first week in office, Governor DeSantis called for $2.5 billion to be invested in Everglades restoration and Florida’s water resources over the course of four years. Florida is already three-quarters of the way to that charge, investing over $2 billion, and we continue to make aggressive strides to expedite Everglades restoration projects and advance efforts to reduce nutrients in Florida’s waterways.

“The Freedom First budget continues that commitment by allocating more than $2.2 billion for key environmental priorities, including dedicating $972 million to Everglades and water quality protection. With this historic funding, DEP and partners will be able to continue our work to expedite Everglades restoration through sound science and project collaboration; implement clean water projects to reduce nutrients in our waterways; assist communities with water supply projects to meet Florida’s future water needs; combat ​​blue-green algae and red tide that have harmful environmental and economic impacts on our communities; and make our communities more resilient through technical assistance and funding to address flooding, erosion and ecosystem changes.

"Additionally, the Governor's charge to increase efforts to conserve lands for future generations has led to more large-scale acquisitions within the past three years than at any point in recent history. With this renewed focus, Florida is acquiring vital lands essential to the tourism that drives Florida's economy and that protect our critical water resources and working agricultural lands.

“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ bold vision, DEP will have the resources necessary to successfully transition from creating the policies and the framework for increased environmental protection, which has been the hallmark of the first three years of this administration, to implementing these reforms and getting critical projects underway.”

Budget highlights include:

  • More than $655 million for Everglades Restoration.
    • $527.6 million for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, including the EAA Reservoir and Restoration Strategies.
    • $78.28 million for the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Plan and dispersed water management (water storage in the basins).
    • $50 million for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project.
  • $195 million for Targeted Water Quality Improvements.
    • $125 million for cost-share grant funds for water quality improvements, including septic conversions and upgrades, other wastewater improvements, and rural and urban stormwater system upgrades.
    • $50 million to accelerate projects to meet scientific nutrient reduction goals (called total maximum daily loads), which may include green infrastructure investments or land conservation to protect our water resources.
    • $20 million for wastewater and stormwater projects that address water quality impairments and coral reef restoration in Biscayne Bay.
  • $50 million for Springs Restoration.
  • $40 million for Alternative Water Supply.
  • $30.8 million to Combat Harmful Algal Blooms and Red Tide.
  • $552 million for Resiliency.
    • This funding will support development of a statewide data set and vulnerability assessment, grants for adaptation projects to address risks of flooding and sea level rise to coastal and inland communities, sea level rise planning efforts and adaptation of critical infrastructure.
  • $50 million for Beach Restoration.
  • $152 million for Prized Properties.
    • $100 million for Florida Forever.
    • $52 million for infrastructure improvements and resource management at Florida's state parks.
  • $137 million for Cleanup Programs.

Learn more about DEP’s environmental actions at