Ag funding talks at impasse, bumped to budget chairs

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House and Senate negotiators working to agree on an agriculture and natural resource budget declared themselves at an impasse on Tuesday, with wide gaps remaining in funding for beach projects, Everglades restoration and numerous land and water projects, reports Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida.

The impasse came about in large part because of a philosophical divide centered on land and water projects – the House has held steady on putting more funding toward land management, the Senate has tilted towards water projects.

Among the differences, the Senate has proposed $70 million for Everglades restoration, with the House countering with a $29.3 million offer. Meanwhile, the House had pitched $25 million for conservation and rural land protection, an item the Senate hadn’t planned to fund.

The talks focused on issues involving the combined $3.1 billion budgets for the Department of Citrus, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Department of Environmental Protection.

Among the items that must now be balanced by the chambers’ budget chairmen, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, are:

-Beach projects, $20.9 million offered by the House, $33.67 million by the Senate.

-Everglades restoration, $29.3 million in the House, $70 million by the Senate.

-The Florida Agriculture Promotion Campaign, $4 million offered by House, $1 million by the Senate.

-Hybrid wetlands treatment, $6 million House, $3 million Senate.

-Conservation and rural land protection, $25 million House, $0 Senate.

-Transfer to Save Our Everglades Trust Fund from Water Management Lands Trust Fund, $0 House, $20 million Senate.

-Transfer to Save Our Everglades Trust Fund from Land Acquisition Trust Fund, $0 House, $18 million Senate.

-Transfer to Florida Forever Trust Fund from Land Acquisition Trust Fund, $0 House, $10 million Senate.

-Friends of Florida State Parks, $750,000 House, $500,000 Senate.

-Small county waste tire, litter prevention, recycling and solid waste grants, $3 million House, $2.4 million Senate.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.