Talking Points

 

The Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment ("Amendment 1") dedicates funds to protect Florida's water, wildlife habitat, natural areas, and parks now and for future generations. It provides funding to acquire, restore, and manage conservation lands, including lands protecting water resources and drinking water, wetlands, forests, rivers, beaches, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation lands, parks, and urban open space.

Amendment 1 calls for renewed state spending on water and land conservation that will safeguard Florida’s environmental and economic future by acquiring and managing conservation lands, restoring and protecting water resources, providing areas for recreation, and keeping working lands, farms, and forests as part of Florida’s rural landscapes.

The intent of Amendment 1, as ratified by 75 percent of Florida voters, is to restore spending for the highly successful group of long-standing programs already authorized in Florida statutes. The voter-approved constitutional mandate can be met by restoring and enhancing funding to existing water and land conservation programs, most importantly Florida Forever and Everglades Restoration. These programs have a decades-long history of success and competitively select projects on the basis of science, not politics.

 

TREMENDOUS POPULAR SUPPORT

  • Voters approved Amendment 1 by an overwhelming 75 percent.
  • Vote totals in 50 of Florida's 67 counties exceeded the 60 percent threshold required for passage, and 32 counties passed Amendment 1 with more than 70 percent support.

TRUST THE VOTERS

  • Florida voters read and understood the ballot title: “Water and Land Conservation - Dedicates funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands.”
  • Voters saw the how funds would be spent: “Funds the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including
    • wetlands and forests;
    • fish and wildlife habitat;
    • lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams;
    • beaches and shores;
    • outdoor recreational lands;
    • working farms and ranches; and
    • historic or geologic sites.”
  • The amendment language is clear and was drawn from existing statutes governing conservation.
  • It provides a straightforward set of priorities for spending documentary stamp taxes on water and land conservation, by specifically invoking statutory language relating to existing conservation programs like Florida Forever, and Everglades Restoration.
  • Throughout all stages of the campaign to pass Amendment 1, the Sponsor Committee’s voter education and outreach emphasized the need for Amendment 1 to renew funding for Florida Forever.
  • Amendment 1 and its sponsor committee, Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, were formed as a direct response to the severe budget cuts made to popular and effective state conservation programs like Florida Forever and Everglades restoration since 2009. Ultimately, the intent of Amendment 1 is to provide funding at historic levels for these programs, and not merely to supplant Florida’s current budget for environmental programs.
  • Any proposed state budget that uses Amendment 1 documentary stamp revenues to fund existing expenses — such as agency operating budgets — would not accomplish the intent of Florida voters.
  • Many voters remember the Lottery Amendment which was supposed to supplement education funding, but ended up plugging holes in the state’s education budget. Now legislators must honor the intent of Florida voters by enhancing spending for conservation, not simply using Amendment 1 funds to replace existing spending on agency operations.

FINISHING THE JOB

  • Most projects on the current Florida Forever priority list are only partially complete. Important wildlife habitat and natural areas have been languishing on the Florida Forever priority list since 2009 without funding.
  • Florida’s population is growing again. Our one-of-kind natural resources are coming under immense development pressure. Legislators need to finish the job of protecting these key tracts before they are lost forever. The best way to do that is by funding Florida Forever.
  • Florida Forever was signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush in 1999, reauthorized by the Florida Legislature in 2008, and until 2009 received $300 million annually. When funded, Florida Forever was highly successful in acquiring lands that protect the water quality of rivers, lakes, and springs, wildlife habitat, and provide healthy outdoor recreation opportunities for all Floridians.
  • Many priority tracts identified for conservation under Florida Forever remain unprotected and vulnerable to poorly planned development including places like the Green Swamp, Indian River Lagoon Blueway, Florida’s First Magnitude Springs, Charlotte Harbor, and Estero Bay.


     

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