At the end of January, Governor Ron DeSantis released his $1 billion “Florida Leads” budget proposal for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year, which includes a “Resilient Plan” to fund climate change efforts within Florida and officially begins July 1.
Climate change remains an important aspect to assess within Florida, as water surrounds the state. A new report by the South Florida Climate Compact states that by 2040, sea level is projected to rise 10 to 17 inches above the 2000 mean sea level, and by 2120, it is projected to rise 40 to 136 inches above the mean level. The SFCC moreover assessed that if Florida does not adapt to climate change, the damage could exceed $38 billion by 2070.
With continued evidence demonstrating that sea level rise and intense storms affect Florida, DeSantis’s plan focuses on allowing local governments to build new infrastructures to face the effects over the span of four years.
The Resilient Plan proposes the construction of several projects to combat the issues at hand, including building sea walls on several government structures to address sea level rise.
Once approved by the legislature in March, the proposal plans to use revenues from state documentary stamp taxes to pay for the debt service on the $1 billion in bonds that face climate change issues.
Within the plan, DeSantis plans to allocate $12.1 million towards providing grants to coastal counties, coastal municipalities and inland counties that have not made vulnerability assessments to the effects of climate change.
While the Department of Environmental Protection manages the program, DeSantis plans to install the non-profit private entity, Resilience Florida Financing Corp., to manage financing. During the first year of the plan, the DEP aims to distribute $165.7 million in grants towards the project.
Aside from the Resilient Florida plan, the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget calls for a $2.5 billion investment into Everglades restoration and Florida’s water resources over the span of four years. Moreover, the budget includes $82 million to protect Florida’s prized properties and bodies of water and $50 million in beach nourishment funding to address shoreline erosion.
While the budget offers environmental reforms, it moreover provides in other categories such as education, public safety and health and human services. DeSantis’s plan additionally includes reforms to aid economic development, with a $50 million allocated to the Job Growth Grant Fund, supporting local infrastructure and job training projects. The Florida Leads budget also includes $500 million towards raising the minimum K-12 teacher salary to $47,500, as well as $110 million allocated towards student mental health awareness.
“Our state has been tested many times before and has always passed with flying colors,” DeSantis said in a press release addressing the Florida Leads budget proposal. “Although our fight against COVID-19 has altered our economic landscape, Florida is on the road to recovery and will continue to lead.”