TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request for $625 million next year for environmental projects, including Everglades restoration, may be “pushing” the limits of a budget expected to be taxed because of the response to Hurricane Michael.
Senate President Bill Galvano said Tuesday he supports environmental efforts that include combating a potential return of red tide and helping communities shift from septic tanks to sewers. However, the Bradenton Republican said the governor’s “big numbers” proposed for the 2019-2020 fiscal year will require lawmakers to determine what is “realistic and what is the most effective and efficient means of pursuing” some of the ideas.
“It’s pushing it a bit giving the challenges we have budget-wise with Hurricane Michael and the impact of Hurricane Michael and what we’ve spent there already,” Galvano told reporters.
Florida has spent at least $1.13 billion responding to the storm that hit the Panhandle in October. Galvano said Tuesday the number could grow by at least $750 million.
Galvano also noted that a lot has been done in recent years to address toxic algae blooms on both coasts and to store and treat water as it moves in South Florida.
“These are important issues, but a lot has been done already, and it’s just a question of having it move up in the queue,” Galvano said. “It’s not an issue of, these are issues that we are starting out with this session. We’ve been working on these for quite a while.”
In his State of the State address on Tuesday, DeSantis reiterated his call for $2.5 billion over the next four years for environmental projects.
“This represents a $1 billion increase compared to the previous four years and will allow us to bring major projects to completion,” DeSantis said. “Given the persistent water problems we have seen over the past several years, now is the time to be bold. We cannot leave for tomorrow that which we can do today.”