Supporters of the Amendment say that $300 million was expected to go to long-term projects like restoring the Everglades, specifically acquiring land from the U.S. Sugar Corporation for the purpose of increasing the flow of water into Florida's famous swamp. $10.5 million of the amendment's funding was to be dedicated to Florida Forever's conservation and restoration priority list. The sale of $90 million in bonds was planned to fund buying land for the protection of springs and restoring the Kissimmee River.
As Will Abberger, director of The Trust for Public Land's Conservation Finance Service and chairman of the Amendment 1 sponsoring committee said, "The word 'land' appears 18 times in the text of the ballot amendment. We thought the voters sent a pretty loud and clear message."
Florida's Republican dominated legislature, however, isn't listening. Instead of using the bulk of the money to safeguard land from development, the legislature is shifting it to other programs. Because the money was designated for resources management, the legislature says this give them the discretion to use it to pay for day-to-day operations of state agencies that deal with management.
State Senator Alan Hays (R), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that is allocating Amendment 1 money claims that Florida already has plenty of public land, "We don't need to be known as the hoarding-land state." The Senate originally approved only $2 million for Florida Forever and, after a torrent of public outrage, changed the figure to $17 million and $20 for springs. Mr. Hays and his committee have taken the purchase of U.S. Sugar Corporation land in the Everglades off the table completely.
A large piece of Amendment money--more than $230 million-- is scheduled to go to state agency operations and expenses, including paying for state employee salaries which would normally be budgeted from the general pool of appropriations, not a special real estate tax that was approved by the state's voters for another--and very specific--purpose.
"The legislature is showing how out of sync they are with voters and how much they hate the amendment, If they can find a way to pay for paper towels in the washroom with Amendment 1 money, they would do it," said Eric Draper, executive director of the Audubon Society of Florida.
what eye thynk: I have two messages. The first is for Florida lawmakers who seem to be unaware of the way government by popular vote, otherwise known as Democracy, works:
- You tell me what you believe during the campaign. Take all the time you want to make your opinion clear.
- I will listen carefully to you and also the opinion from your opponent.
- I will then decide whose opinion I agree with and cast my vote.
- Whichever opinion gets the most votes is the winner.
- The winner's opinion is the only one that counts.
Legislators like you, Mr. Hays, don't seem to understand that when 75% of Florida's people choose the other side, you have lost the battle of the opinions--your anti-environment, pro-business opinion is no longer valid. Serving the people, something you and your buddies have all vowed to do, means serving the people's opinion, not your own.
My second message is for the voters of Florida:
If you don't vote lawmakers like Rick Scott, Alan Hays and the rest of these deaf-to-the-people Republicans out of office in the next election, you're all idiots and there is nothing anyone can do to help you.