House and Senate agree on coral reef restoration spending, other coastal projects

The state will also help a sea level rise study on Longboat Key

The House and Senate continue to haggle over environmental protection matters but agreed on more than $2 million for reef restoration.

Both chambers have also agreed to an assortment of other environmental expenditures, including a Longboat Key sea level rise program and some spending on local parks. But there remain points of disagreement over which green efforts will receive green from the state.

The $2,001,563 budgeted by both chambers for coral reef restoration marked a substantial overlap. Part of a coastal resiliency effort, the effort will be funded with non-recurring general revenue. That’s according to the latest reports from the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

Both budgets eliminate the same dollar amount for redundant resilient planning grants in recurring funding.

Another spending project agreed upon by both chambers? A Longboat Key assessment of sea level rise and recurring storm flooding. That will go to the coastal city spanning parts of Sarasota and Manatee counties, with the state chipping in $61,913.

While the chambers agree on the broader coral restoration program, a Monroe County coral project sees support in both the House and Senate but dollar amounts are far apart. The Senate wants to send $1 million but the House has only budgeted $250,000.

Meanwhile, the House is prepared to spend $25 million on spring restoration but there’s no such line item in the Senate budget. That represents more than the roughly $24 million difference in total funding for environmental protections.

Both chambers want to devote $10 million to innovative tech for environmental protection but they disagree on how much of that should be recurring funding. Both sides are in agreement on $11 million going for small county wastewater treatment grants.

The chambers do agree on some park expenditures, but that spending appears to still be in flux. A river access project in Green Cove Springs has $300,000 set aside in both budget offers. There’s also $492,595 budgeted for a Gulf Breeze wetlands trail boardwalk.

Both sides plan $1.5 million to go to Gladys Douglas Property Acquisition and $300,000 for a Jay Bray-Hendricks Park master plan.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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