Millions of people from around the world visit the Sunshine State each year. We have one of the most unique eco-systems in the country. Preserving those environmentally sensitive areas costs money, millions of dollars each year. Some legislators have become concerned that the funding for preservation projects is not consistent.
Amendment 1 would constitutionally fund the projects for the next 20 years. Here's the full amendment:
Funds the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites, by dedicating 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents for 20 years.
Former Florida congressman and Attorney General Bill McCollum supports the amendment.
“It is very straight forward," McCollum said. "There is no new program created. There are no new taxes involved in it. It simply dedicates some existing tax resources specifically for the continued purchase of lands that we need to buy, and conservation easements we need to have for the future of Florida and to clean up our waterways, our lakes, our rivers, our springs. It’s very important to do that.”
The mandate would not set a specific dollar amount. Instead it would set aside 33 percent of a year’s revenue from document stamp taxes on real estate transactions. For example, if the state took in $1 million in doc stamp taxes, 33 percent or just over $333,000 would go to the fund. If the state took in $600,000, that number would drop to $200,000.
But there is concern that legislating any budget item by constitutional mandate is a dangerous precedent to set.
“We don’t need to legislate by constitutional mandate," said David Hart of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. "However, we all love Florida’s special unique environment and we should urge our legislators to fund these programs through the normal budget process.”
Again, the mandate on the amendment lasts for 20 years.