Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Urgent action needed to save Florida Forever funding

UPDATE 4/29/09: Here is the latest, urgent update from the Florida Forever Coalition including suggested action/talking points: http://bit.ly/12y9Eb

Please read the important update below from from our friends at the Florida Forever Coalition and take action.

As we enter the final scheduled week of Florida's legislative session, funding for Florida Forever (FF) funding is still in jeopardy.

The Status: The Senate bill that deals with closing the documentary stamp tax loophole is still on track to pass in the Senate. SB 2430 would provide approximately $46M in additional doc stamp revenue for next fiscal year. A portion of this would be used to provide up to $50M in FF bonds and $50M for Everglades bonds for next fiscal year. The bill makes sure FF bonds are safe (assurance) for investors, and allow the state to issue bonds for $250M for FF for this year.

In an advance-planned, last minute maneuver, the House introduced HB 1219 that would allow oil and gas drilling within three miles of Florida's coast. In an effort to give it an environmental spin, the sponsors are proposing to fund FL Forever through oil and gas lease revenues. The Florida Forever Coalition believes oil and gas drilling lease revenues are not an appropriate, reliable solution to Florida Forever funding, and that the leases could not generate sufficient, predictable revenue to support Florida Forever bonds next year or for several years after that.

Recommended Actions:
Senate - need Senate to approve tax loophole bill (SB 2430) that will fund FF next year, let this year's bonds be sold and ensure environmental bond repayments - contact editorial boards, Senators, etc.
House - regarding the drilling bill (HB 1219) - contact House members/leadership and state that FF funding for NEXT YEAR is critical - drilling revenue will not be sufficient or available next year
Governor - contact Gov. Crist to encourage him to come out against drilling and in favor of FF funding for next year.
Overall message - FL Forever funding is not secured yet - support the Senate's approach in funding FF for next year.

Thanks to Sens. Atwater, Alexander, Baker, Lawson, Gelber for their roles in support of Florida Forever. Continue to forward resolutions, news stories, and elected officials' comments regarding Florida Forever to info@supportfloridaforever.org.

A strong, coordinated final hour effort is essential to obtain funding for Florida Forever.

Thank you,

The Florida Forever Coalition Steering Committee

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