House budget proposal includes Everglades, not Florida Forever

The House on Monday did not include money for Florida Forever in its conference committee budget offer but it did offer $10 million for Everglades restoration.

Florida Forever is the nation’s largest land-buying program but the program received no money from the Legislature last year and could run out of money this year.

The House has adopted a 2010-11 state budget of nearly $70 billion, which is almost $3 billion more than the House version. The Senate plan is higher because it counts on $400 million from gambling as well as a higher matching rate for Medicaid that has yet to be adopted by Congress.

Conferees met for the first time on Monday. In the natural resource subcommittee, the House agreed to the Senate Everglades allocation but not to the Senate’s $15 million proposed for the Florida Forever program.

The program had received $300 million in bonding authority in previous years. The Senate budget proposal would cut $2 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s springs initiative, while the House countered Monday with an offer to cut only $1 million.

The House on Monday proposed spending $2 million for continuing a septic tanks technology study that stems from a Florida Department of Health proposal in 2009 to require advanced septic tanks in the Wekiva River basin. The Senate version of the budget provides nothing for the study.

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