KISSIMMEE -- Gov. Rick Scott recently pledged $130 million to restore the Everglades in the upcoming budget.
During a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, the governor said that the 2014 budget request would be used to help restore the Kissimmee River just north of the Everglades. Also it will assist in the reconstruction of a section of the Tamiani Trail so it will allow water to flow south into the Everglades and speed up construction of a storm water treatment plant for Martin and St. Lucie counties.
Scott referred to the everglades as a major “a key to a vibrant economy, coast to coast.”
The budget request for the Everglades is a $60 million increase over last year budget.
“If you’re a fan of the Everglades, the governor’s announcement today should blow your socks off,” according to Herschel Vinyard, the governor-appointed Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Scott’s announcement comes only nine months after the Florida Legislature approved an $880 million plan for funding Everglades restoration projects. Scott negotiated the plan with the federal government.
Efforts to protect water quality for the Everglades has “turned a corner,” said Stan Meiburg, currently acting regional administrator for the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s for the southeast region. Nonetheless, he said, “It’s going to take time and it’s going to be expensive.”
Lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session have a host of other water issues to consider besides the Everglades. Scott on Tuesday announced he would ask for $55 million to restore and protect Florida’s springs and central Florida lawmakers have pledged to fund efforts to clean up the Indian River Lagoon.
“Water funding is going to be a big, emerging issue,” claimed Janet Bowman, director of legislative policy for The Nature Conservancy.
Additionally, At the first Cabinet meeting of the year, Scott and the Cabinet members handed out awards to business leaders and educators, and pledged their support for Kissimmee’s efforts to land the National Finals Rodeo.