Scott continues budget rollout with funding plan for South Florida waterways

Continuing the rollout of a budget expected to be unveiled in Tallahassee next week, Gov. Rick Scott  Wednesday proposed $130 million in funding for Everglades restoration and cleanup work on South Florida waterways.

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At a state Cabinet meeting in Kissimmee, Scott said the money will go to “improving water quality, mitigating impacts of Lake Okeechobee’s discharges on our estuaries, and diverting more fresh water south to help restore the Everglades,” according to a news release.

Scott’s proposal comes after an $880 million commitment last year to Everglades restoration. The new funding would include $40 million for stormwater treatment to clean up the Indian River Lagoon in Martin and St. Lucie counties, $30 million for the Tamiami Trail project to improve water flow into the Everglades by building a 2.6-mile bridge to carry a portion of the road above the Everglades, and more for Kissimmee River restoration to clean water feeding Lake Okeechobee, according to the release.

In making the announcement, Scott criticized what he called a lack of commitment by the federal government to help with Everglades restoration.

“While on the state level we’re working hard to protect and restore our natural treasures, we recently received some disappointing news from Washington. The Obama administration decided the Everglades didn’t need all the funding Congress offered. It is my hope that the Obama administration will not reduce critical funding for Florida projects in the future,”Scott said.

According to the News Service of Florida, Dan Kimball, supervisor of Everglades National Park, assured Scott during the Cabinet meeting that the federal government will match Florida’s three-year, $30-million-a-year, funding for the Tamiami Trail project.

Wednesday announcement followed a proposal Scott put forward Tuesday for $55 million to protect and restore the state’s natural springs, which are key parts of the state’s two largest industries, tourism and agriculture.

Scott’s office announced Wednesday that the governor’s proposed budget will be released Jan. 29.

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