FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis touted more than $1 billion earmarked for Everglades and water resource investments in the upcoming state budget at a news conference in Fort Myers Beach Wednesday morning.
“So this year’s budget alone that I signed, Freedom First budget last week, has $1.2 billion for Everglades and water resources investments and so that is far and away the best that we’ve ever done,” DeSantis said. “...We actually had $500 million just for our Everglades projects, which broke the record that we had set previously, and so the four highest years of funding for Everglades projects in the history of the state of Florida are the four years that I have been in office.”
Speaking at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, a seafood restaurant, DeSantis also announced he had vetoed SB 2508 Wednesday, a conforming bill that would have allowed for more water to be discharged from Lake Okeechobee to areas other than the Everglades, where critics of the bill said it’s most needed.
“We want to continue going on the path that we set out in January of 2019, and we don’t want anything to derail us from that... there was a lot of people that put a lot of good input in, very, very passionate folks, so you know, we hear you, and we’re gonna continue on the course that we started a little over three years ago,” DeSantis said. “...Since we started in January 2019, 48 Everglades projects have either broken ground, hit a major milestone or finished construction, and so that’s a lot.”
The governor was joined by Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton, Chief Resilience Officer Wes Brooks and others for the news conference.
Hamilton said the department is now accepting applications for water-quality grants, which can be accessed by clicking here.
“Using a thoughtful science-based process to decide (how) to be (the) best stewards of this record funding is still core to our mission and will guide us going forward,” Hamilton said. “...That’s (the application portal), an important tool that I encourage our partners in our communities to take advantage of that, reach out to department resources, we’ll guide you through that process, because again, we want to make sure we’re there for you at your point of need.”
DeSantis and his team then spoke at a news conference later that day in West Palm Beach, further detailing the funding for state parks and the Resilient Florida plan.
“As a result of that investment, we’ve already announced earlier this year (about 404 million) different projects across the state through the Resilient Florida program and so this is relocating structures out of flood prone areas, elevating or relocating wastewater and drinking water facilities, raising elevations of roads and buildings and (establishing) living shorelines to reduce storm impacts,” DeSantis said at the West Palm Beach news briefing.
The event comes a day after the governor signed a bill into law aimed at improving school safety in Florida. DeSantis signed HB-1421 in an effort to “implement the additional recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission,” a news release said.
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