Sen. Graham aims for 1 million signatures for 2014 environmental amendment
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and a group of environmentalists launched a new drive Thursday for a 2014 Constitutional amendment that would provide guaranteed funding for water and land conservation efforts in Florida for 20 years.
The Florida Water and Land Legacy amendment would use a third of the state’s Documentary Stamp Tax revenue for environmental purposes such as restoring and acquiring land, protecting beaches, repairing the Everglades and managing the water supply.
“Approaching this in a long-term, multi-decade basis… allows you to do good—and not political—project planning,” said Graham, who also served as Florida’s governor in the 1980s.
Former Department of Environmental Protection Secretrary Colleen Castille and Former Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan are spearheading the drive to gather as many as 1 million signatures to support the effort.
The state’s Documentary Stamp Tax is a fee levied on most real estate transactions to help fund the state’s treasury and various expenditures. As the housing market has tanked, revenue from the “doc stamp” tax has fallen from $3 billion in 2006 to about $1.3 billion. With real estate prices and sales slowly beginning to rebound, supporters of this plan say it could provide more than $5 billion in conservation funding.
The doc stamp revenue is currently used to support Florida’s $70 billion annual budget, and a large portion goes to paying debt on the Preservation 2000 & Florida Forever conservation projects from the past.
Supporters of this plan say that debt will be paid down soon, freeing up additional money for conservation efforts.