Poll: Majority oppose Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to cut Everglades restoration funding

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— A majority of Florida voters oppose Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to slash funding for Everglades restoration projects by two-thirds, according to a recent Everglades Foundation poll.

The poll found that 55 percent of voters opposed Scott’s proposal to cut Everglades restoration funding from $50 million a year to $17 million, while 40 percent support it. Five percent were unsure.

Kirk Fordham, CEO of the foundation, said during a Monday afternoon press conference that, like Scott, he believes there is room to find waste in “virtually every agency.”

“We all share Gov. Scott’s desire to rein in state spending,” Fordham said.

However, he said he believes the Everglades restoration projects have taken a “disproportionate hit” in recent years. Everglades funding hit a high during the administration of former- Gov. Jeb Bush, ranging from $100 million to $200 million annually from 2002 to 2006.

Fordham called the restoration projects, many of which employ people who formerly worked in the moribund construction industry, one of the best ways to “put folks back to work in private sector jobs that aren’t going to increase the size of government.”

“We recognize that in order to get revenues restored to the levels that they had been several years ago in our state coffers, you have to promote economic growth,” Fordham said. “However, you cannot attract that new growth, new businesses; you can’t create jobs in the state if you don’t have one key ingredient, and that’s water.

“One in three Floridians depend on the Everglades for their water supply.”

The survey of 607 registered voters throughout the state was conducted Feb. 13-14, by the Republican polling firm Tarrance Group out of Virginia. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent.

Public response to Scott’s Everglades proposal was polarized, said Dave Sackett, one of the Tarrance Group’s founding members.

“There are very few people who say they are unsure of their views on the issue,” he said.

Officials with the Everglades Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to restoring and protecting the Everglades ecosystem, only released select responses from the survey because they plan to use the rest to test messages they can use against their opponents, Fordham said.

The survey didn’t ask respondents if they were willing to pay more in taxes to continue funding the restoration projects, Fordham said, and didn’t ask respondents to prioritize the Everglades project against other programs that are also facing potential cuts.

“We didn’t pit programs against one another,” Fordham said.

The survey also found that 74 percent of respondents agreed that the state needs to manage new development to protect the Everglades, and 81 percent agreed the state needs to manage new development to protect rivers, lakes, streams and beaches from pollution.

Sixty-five percent of respondents ranked protecting and restoring the Everglades as either extremely important or very important, while 23 percent ranked it as somewhat important and 11 percent ranked it as not important at all.

Approved by Congress in 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP, was originally estimated to take 30 years and cost about $7.8 billion. However, that price tag has since increased.

“The primary principle of Everglades restoration is, instead of flushing two billion gallons of water out to sea,” Fordham said, “capture it in the Everglades during the wet season so you have it during the dry season to provide to our population, and even to agricultural, and business and industrial users.”

The $79 million Everglades restoration project that broke ground in mid-February in the Picayune Strand State Forest is not in jeopardy, Fordham said, because it is funded by federal dollars.

Connect with Ryan Mills at www.naplesnews.com/staff/ryan-mills/

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Comments » 3

Spock_is_logical writes:

wahhhhh

Fossil writes:

Thank you Governor Scott and the all knowing Tea Party members. Cut, Cut, Cut. Who needs government? Not the Chamber, not the developers, not the investors, not the CEO's, not the polluters, not the banks and not the Tea Party members and surely not the wealthy. It is said that no household could survive if it practiced the same financial philosopy that our government does. That thought is becomeing very obvious to many of us today. It is the cry of the wise Tea Party members. Most households that reject money from the employer or the providers of the households incomes would indeed flounder and fail just like our current government is doing. Insufficient or no income equals no food, no clothing, no home, no utilities, no fuel to drive our children to school, no heat in winter, no air in summer. Ultimately, loss of revenue leads to one predictable outcome: Financial disaster. What happens to families whose providers fail to provide revenue to make their mortgage payments, little or no food on their table, their credit card payments are not made, their car loans lapse, their utlity payments ar ignored and their children will not be able to go to college. That's right, they fail, they become dysfunctional. Thank you Governor Scott. Keep working at reducing our revenue. Thank you for putting our infrastructure at risk, our public safety services at risk, our public highways at risk and for not taking federal money to improve our public transportation and make jobs. Thank you for working hard to reduce benefits for those who teach our children (that will surely make them motivated). Thank you to all the wealthy business owners, investors, CEOs and party hacks for not paying your fair share. Thank you Tea Party members and your non-thinking supporters for bringing us this theater. Our house is about to be foreclosed on and our children are about to go without. Those who put this fellow and his un-Amercian ideas in power are about to raze our beutiful state and all that serves as the motivation for people to move here. Well funded accountable government, is necessary for our well being, our happiness, our strength and our stablility. It is necessry to assist the sick, the elderly, the infirm. Unbridled and underfunded government recently provided us with two unfunded and unnecessary wars, policies that resulted in the lose of fiancial and housing regulations, ineffective pollution controls, financial disaster, loss of jobs, lower taxes and little or no personal ACCOUNTABLITY and as Dick Cheney says "so what". Governor Scott, when the Everglades fail so will the Great State of Florida. Our environment will become so unsustainable that people will stop moving here and you, your beloved Tea Party members and the rich can have the entire mess to yourselves.

lauralbi1 writes:

I would trust the results more (not necessarily agree with them) if the survey had been done by an objectivegroup and not one that has a stake in the results.
Ed Issler

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