Federal Stimulus: Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his federal stimulus budget recommendations. Of the $193 billion slated for states and local governments, Florida expects to receive 10 billion. Among other planned spending, the governor wants to set aside $1 billion for his multi-year “Resilient Florida” plan, which would provide grants to local governments to address infrastructure, shoreline erosion, wastewater treatment, and future sea level rise planning. The program will be managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This spending is on top of the current spending proposals included in the governor’s $96.6 billion state budget, which includes other stimulus and economic recovery items.
Legislative bills that progressed last week:
Florida Forever: SB 1480 – Land Acquisition Trust Fund, which extends the date to which bonds can be issued to the Florida Forever program, has passed two of its three assigned committees. Bonds are issued to pay for existing debt service for land and expenditures to the existing Florida Forever land acquisition program. While this is a positive development, there are other Florida Forever-related bills that have been filed that extend bonding and designate a specified funding amount for future land acquisition. Those bills have not yet been scheduled in their respective committees.
Resiliency: There was little discussion in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee during the passage of SB 1954 – Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience. The bill passed unanimously 6-0 and is similar to the House version, HB 7019, which passed last week. The provisions in these bills closely mirror the “Resilient Florida” plan and are expected to pass this session.
Transportation – Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (MCORES) – SB 100 – Highway Projects is the partial repeal bill of the environmentally devastating toll road expansion bill. SB 100 proposes to return transportation toll road projects to the previously utilized FDOT needs-based project process rather than the political process that created MCORES. While SB 100 proposes to eliminate the southern portion of the proposed toll road planning process, it allocates funds to retrofit existing roadways in the area of the Northern Turnpike Connector in the Big Bend area with potential environmental impacts to existing water and wildlife corridors in that region. This bill passed the last of its Senate committees but may be amended to address some of the concerns expressed during committee debate.