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Enviro coalition warns that Senate bill could harm Everglades restoration

In a letter to Sen. Mike Haridopolos Tuesday, four leading environmental warn that the proposed Senate budget, which cuts millions from the water management districts and sweeps their budgets under legislative control, could have the effect of harming Everglades restoration.

The letter, by Eric Draper of Audubon of Florida, Kirk Fordham of the Everglades Foundation, E. Thom Rumberg of the Everglades Trust and Manley Fuller of the Florida Wildlife Federation, commends Senate Budget Chief J.D. Alexander for "ably" crafting the budget. But it warns that the new approach to water management district "may have the effect of limiting South Florida Water Management District funds for Everglades restoration projects." Download Everglades Group letter to Haridopolos[1]

"We do not disagree that the water management districts may be able to tighten their budgets,'' the group writes. "Our request is that the Senate authorize $394 million in ad valorem spending for the South Florida Water Managemnet District and $50 million from state sources."

According to Politifact, Alexander's claim that some water management districts are sitting on unspent cash is false. The governing boards of state's five water management districts are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, and the governor must approve water management district budgets each year. But Alexander has move to put the districts budgets under legislative review, allowing them to potentially lower the property taxes they collect.