Crist: Land-buying is an investment in economy

Gov. Charlie Crist today paired environmental spending with education as both being necessary investments for moving Florida forward in tough economic times.

Crist’s $69.2-billion budget recommendation for 2010-11 includes $50 million for Everglades restoration and $50 million for the Florida Forever land-buying program, which received no money last year for the first time since 1990.

This year, Crist said, it’s important to “revive Florida’s commitment to conserve our unique natural resources and wildlife.” And he said education and environmental spending both are important to the economy.

“We know how important the tourist industry is to our state,” he said. “About 85 million people a year visit Florida. That provides an incredible amount of jobs and economic opportunity. It’s important for us to invest in protecting Florida.”

The budget also includes $10 million for solar energy rebates, $167 million in matching funds for water and wastewater projects, $6 million for water quality programs, $283 million for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and $319 million for agricultural programs.

(Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)