After Rick Scott Pledges $150 Million, Barack Obama Wants $240 Million More for Everglades
Barack Obama and Rick Scott may not have that much in common politically, but both the president's and the governor's recently proposed budgets had one similarity: lots of money for the restoration of the Florida Everglades.
Last month Scott set aside $150 million in his budget for the Everglades as part of a 20-year, $5 billion plan. Now, Obama's newly proposed 2016 budget has earmarked $195 million for the Everglades, a significant increase in federal spending in the wetlands.
Yep, politicians on all levels are making it rain on the Everglades.
"Building on the Obama administration's record investment of more than $1.6 billion in the Everglades, the budget proposes $240 million to continue restoration efforts," touts a news release from the White House.
About $124 million of that cash will go toward doubling spending on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects. That money will likely be spent on canal, reservoir, and water preserves, with the goal of restoring the Everglades' natural water flow, eliminating pollution runoff from cities and farms, and keeping Florida's drinking water supply safe.
It's part of a long-running trend in the Obama administration to spend money on infrastructure projects with an eye on job creation -- those Corps projects are expected to create hundreds of positions. Some past proposed spending on the Everglades by the White House has been a victim of a divided Congress, but with several key powerful Republicans in the House, including Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, it's likely this budget item should make it through unscathed.
The announcement comes on the heels of Scott's pledge to increase spending on Everglades restoration. Voters passed an amendment last November that would set aside one-third of all excise taxes on documents for environmental purposes. The governor wants at least a quarter of that money to be dedicated to the Everglades, with an eye on spending $5 billion over 20 years. Scott's funding would be dedicated to projects along the Tamiami Trail, reservoirs in Central Florida, and restoration of the Kissimmee River.
Both politicians' Everglades promises come after years of economic turmoil have often left funding for Everglades projects in turmoil. According to some critics' analysis, Scott himself had slashed environmental funding by 95 percent during his first term.
Follow Miami New Times on Facebook.