Crist links jobs, environment during Florida Forever rally

Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday told a rally at the Capitol that the state’s land-buying program is critical to the Florida’s tourism economy.

Florida Forever is the largest land-buying program in the nation with more than 2 million acres having been purchased since 1990. But the program is expected to run out of money by the end of the year if it doesn’t receive cash or bonding authority from the Legislature. Florida Forever had received $300 million in bonding authority each year since 1990 but the Legislature provided no new money last year.

Crist reminded a Florida Forever rally today at the Capitol that he requested $50 million in bonding authority in his 2010-11 budget request. He also said that as governor, he understands the importance of protecting Florida.

“It’s not only important to our environment, it’s important to our economy,” he said. “We’re a state really where we depend on tourism an awful lot for jobs, jobs, jobs. And If you understand that and appreciate that, you realize and understand our environment and our economy are inextricably linked together. They depend on one another for their mutual success.”

The Senate’s adopted budget for 2010-11 includes $15 million in cash for Florida Forever while the House provides nothing for the program.

“We are here today to implore the Legislature to continue the Florida Forever program, to save Florida Forever,” said Andrew McLeod, director of government affairs for The Nature Conservancy.

(Content provided by the Current, produced by The Florida Tribune. Story and photo copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)