Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislature Ignores Will of Voters

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislature Ignores Will of Voters

Article excerpt

Byline: Ron Littlepage

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The Legislature has reached the point where the two chambers begin trying to meld their separate budgets into one.

In their current forms, the House and Senate budgets amount to a middle-finger salute to Florida's voters.

Those would be the voters who in 2014 overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1, clearly declaring they want millions of dollars spent annually to reinvigorate the state's Florida Forever program by purchasing conservation land.

As of this week, the House budget would defund Florida Forever and the Senate budget would provide a pittance.

And for good measure, both budgets would defund the Rural and Family Lands program, which allows the state to purchase permanent conservation easements on farms and ranches while allowing agricultural operations to continue.

Since the passage of Amendment 1, legislators have consistently ignored the will of the voters. Why? Because they can.

Now is the time to let your representative and senator know this arrogance will no longer be tolerated.

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Under the Senate budget, a lot of the money meant for Florida Forever is being siphoned off to support Senate President Joe Negron's crusade to build huge reservoirs to help the Everglades and to stop the toxic releases from Lake Okeechobee that spread damaging algae blooms in South Florida estuaries and rivers.

Preventing this disaster is a noble goal, but it's not land acquisition.

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Speaking of algae blooms, Quinton White, executive director of Jacksonville University's Marine Science Research Institute, offered an ominous warning during a meeting this week of the Jacksonville Waterways Commission.

White said he is "very concerned" about the warmer-than-usual weather and the high amount of nutrients in the St. Johns River.

"There's a good chance of having toxic algae blooms this summer," he said.

Do your part - proper fertilization is a good place to start - to try to prevent another return of the Green Monster. …

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