Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled his proposed budget and it has some pleasant surprises for environmental advocates.
Past governors have made it a practice to sweep “unappropriated cash balances from specified trust funds” into the general fund and spend it on their pet projects or provide tax relief for political gain.
A big loser in this has been the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The fund acquired $740 million, of which $652 million has been used on other purposes. Even after voters approved Florida Forever, the Legislature swept most of that money into the general fund.
This year, DeSantis is asking for $100 million for the Florida Forever conservation land acquisition program.
Another program that has been hard hit by sweeps in the past is the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This is money, collected as a surcharge on real estate transactions, that is supposed to be used to subsidize new homes. Since 2001, more than $2.2 billion has been swept into the general fund. It would have been enough to subsidize 177,000 new homes. For the first time in history, that account will not be robbed by legislators.
DeSantis continues to impress us as a responsible steward of the environment and has shown a willingness to listen to voters’ wishes.