State lawmakers misused almost half of the money available through Amendment 1, the constitutional amendment to conserve land and water on last November’s Florida ballot, according to several environmental activists. The nonprofit organization, Earth Justice, filed a lawsuit on Monday, June 22. A legal challenge had been expected after the illustrious legislature passed a budget on Friday, June 19 that uses the largest chunk of the $740 million available through Amendment 1 to pay for salaries and routine expenses of environmental agencies that were previously funded mostly by General Revenue fund (another superb example of the thievery that occurs on a routine basis in our fine state capital). The suit was filed against the legislature, House Speaker Steve Cristafulli, and Senate President Andy Gardiner.
The suit seeks guidance from the courts on how lawmakers should allocate money from the amendment next legislative session starting in January, said Earthjustice attorney David Guest. “What we are saying simply to the court is to confirm boundaries and tell the Legislature what they can and cannot fund,” Guest said.
Only $88.7 million would go toward land acquisition, according to the lawsuit. When lawmakers ignore the public will, remedy must be sought in the courts. Unfortunately, as is the case with Adena Springs Ranch in Ft. McCoy, all appeals must go through the Florida Administrative Appeal process, which is nothing more than a bureaucratic roadblock to the public’s ability to be engaged in state governmental matters. As I stated last month, we are being out-moneyed and out-politicked with our own money and representatives. Prepare for a long, convoluted legal battle over Amendment 1 funding.