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Florida leaders blast Donald Trump’s budget for Everglades

Florida’s leaders made a bipartisan ask for $200 million. Trump offered $70 million.

Florida’s Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and others are decrying the budget proposal released by President Donald Trump for providing only about $70 million for Everglades restoration projects instead of the $200 million that Florida had requested.

The criticism included a statement from the The Everglades Foundation, which turned its hope toward lobbying Congress for the money that Trump is not proposing in his budget.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida’s entire bipartisan, 29-member congressional delegation had requested $200 million for this year.

The President’s budget calls for $63.3 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for South Florida Everglades Restoration and $5.5 million for
Operations and Maintenance.

“We have consistently urged that the federal government meet its commitment to Everglades restoration at a level of at least $200 million for this fiscal year — an amount needed annually to restore America’s Everglades for future generations, reduce polluted water discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and help ensure clean drinking water for over 8 million Floridians. This includes construction of the long delayed Everglades reservoir that is designed to store polluted water, clean it, and then send it south,” declared  The Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg.

Rubio, Scott, and Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Mast  of Palm City and Francis Rooney and Naples released a joint statement that called the administration’s budget request “incredibly short-sighted” and charged that it underfunds critical projects.

“Everglades restoration is critically important to the State of Florida and enjoys broad bipartisan support in Congress,” their statement said. “Failing to meet the basic federal funding commitments to restore the Everglades is contrary to the administration’s goal of improving project partnerships and cost-sharing with states. Successive Florida Governors have remained committed to this goal, pushing state funding of this 50/50 federal-state partnership to historic highs. Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers envisioned a $200 million per year federal commitment when the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was first authorized nearly 20 years ago, and it is time for the administration to meet that commitment.”

Audubon Florida Director of Everglades Policy Celeste de Palma also expressed disappointment, noting the proposal is a 31 percent cut from 2019 funding levels, which already were below what Florida sought.

“This is the third year in a row that cuts to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget for Everglades restoration have been proposed. We need more investment in green infrastructure, not less,” de Palma stated in a news release. “Everglades restoration is the blueprint to combat the harmful algal blooms that plagued south Florida last summer. Increased and steadfast commitment from the federal government at the $200 million level will ensure the completion of these critical projects now, not later. We are urging Congress to get it right, and I know we have strong leadership in the U.S. House and Senate to get us there.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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