Full funding for the Florida Keys Stewardship Act appears to be on a better track than in prior years in Tallahassee.
On Wednesday, the Florida House and Senate’s appropriations committees unveiled their budget proposals. Both included $20 million included for a Stewardship Act that funds critical water quality projects.
Budget proposals for the critical Keys program fall in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recommended budget for the upcoming 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins in July.
An initial House spending proposal last year included $2 million for the Stewardship Act. A Senate budget proposed nothing for the program. With legislative approval by the end of session, DeSantis signed a budget last year with a full $20 million in Stewardship funds and an additional $5 million for land acquisition.
State Rep. Jim Mooney worked to include full funding for the Stewardship Act last year. Even with budget proposals including the $20 million, Mooney told the Keys Weekly a long road is still ahead.
“We are continuing to work our request through the system,” Mooney said. “We are staying confident that as we start the process through the budget that there will be appropriations that fall into place.”
State Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez told the Keys Weekly that she’s delighted to see that the House and Senate budget have included the $20 million for the Florida Keys Stewardship Act.
“While the fight isn’t over until the end of session, I feel that we’re starting from a position of strength, and this will help us as budget negotiations proceed,” she said. “The Florida Keys are an ecological gem, and all efforts should be made to preserve it for generations to come.”
In a press release, Monroe County Mayor David Rice said the county is thankful to House and Senate leadership for their recognition and support of funding that protects valuable Florida Keys resources.
A 60-day session in Tallahassee concludes March 11.