June 5, 2020

80 Organizations and Businesses to Governor DeSantis and Legislature: Redirect M-CORES Funding to Critical State Needs

TALLAHASSEE — Eighty (80) organizations and businesses from across the state today sent a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis and the state Legislature urging them to halt work on M-CORES and redirect those precious state funds toward the real needs of Floridians.

The letter:

Dear Governor DeSantis and Florida State Senators and Representatives:

We are currently in a time of great uncertainty. For many Florida residents and businesses, the future has never seemed so unclear.  To ensure that the basic needs of Floridians are met during and after the COVID-19 pandemic will require an unprecedented fiscal response at a time when our state’s primary revenue sources may be severely diminished.  The below signed eighty (80) organizations and businesses ask that you strike the $90 million in funding for M-CORES from the 2020-2021 budget, and use that funding instead to help the unemployed, small businesses, agricultural producers and workers, and other Floridians hit hard by COVID-19 and its repercussions.

We know the budget is designed in such a way as to make the extraction of M-CORES-related dollars less than straightforward, however, we also know that if regular Floridians, rather than special interests, are your first priority, you will extract and redirect those funds.

A year ago, these roads were a bad idea: they will further degrade our water resources and compromise human health, damage local businesses and rural downtowns, lead to the loss of threatened and endangered species, and misdirect tax dollars away from important state needs.  Today, these toll roads are preposterous.

According to 1000 Friends of Florida’s analysis, Florida is scheduled to spend $135 million on M-CORES by July 1, 2021 and more than $1.1 billion over the next 10 years.  Most of that $1.1 billion will be spent on just designing the toll roads.  Based on similar projects completed in the past, the total cost of the M-CORES toll roads could be more than $21 billion. These funds will be needed elsewhere, if they are available at all.

Sales tax accounts for nearly eighty (80) percent of state general revenue and about one-fifth of sales tax comes directly from the hospitality and tourism industries.  Even as safer at home orders are modified to allow for limited recreation and tourism, after two months of lockdown Florida will likely lose billions of dollars in tax revenue while needing to do more than ever to care for Florida’s large elderly population, address the critical needs of the unemployed, and keep small businesses afloat.

The Legislature can help communities by providing money directly to local governments who know best the needs of their communities and have long lists of shovel-ready projects waiting for state funding.  

While people can disagree on whether or not the M-CORES toll roads should be built at all, it would be the height of hubris to spend more than a hundred million dollars on planning new toll roads in the middle of a global pandemic.

Please use your power to strike all appropriations related to M-CORES, halt work on the project, and redirect those precious state funds toward the real needs of your people.


Alachua County Labor Coalition
Jeremiah Tattersall, Chair

Alachua County NAACP Environmental & Climate Justice Committee
Nkwanda Jah, Chair

Apalachee Audubon Society
Peter Kleinhenz, President

Bay and Reef Company of the Florida Keys
Captains Elizabeth Jolin and Xavier Figueredo, Owners

Bear Warriors United
Katrina Shadix, Executive Director

Big Cat Rescue
Carole Baskin, CEO

Allie Preston, Director of Communications

Ralf Brookes

Calusa Waterkeeper
John Cassani, Director

Center for Biological Diversity
Jacki Lopez, Florida Director

Citizens Allied for Safe Energy, Inc.
Barry J. White, President

Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Marley Monacello

Concerned Citizens of Bayshore Community, Inc. (CCBC)
Steve Brodkin, Vice President/Secretary

Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Julianne Thomas, Senior Environmental Planning Specialist

Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County
Pam Harting, Vice President

Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida (DECF)
Janelle J. Christensen, PhD, MPH, President

Duval Audubon Society
Carol Bailey-White, Vice President

Alisa Coe, Staff Attorney

Englewood Indivisible
Jane Hunter, Leader

Environment Florida
Jenna Stevens, State Director

eYes on Conservation 20/20
Barbara Manzo, Chair

Farmworker Association of Florida
Antonio Tovar, General Coordinator

Florida College Democrats
Christina Pugliese, Director of Outreach

Florida Conservation Voters
Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director

Florida Consumer Action Network
Susan McGrath, Executive Director

Florida Defenders of the Environment
Jim Gross, Executive Director

Florida Policy Institute
Sadaf Knight, CEO

Florida Public Interest Research Group (Florida PIRG)
Matt Cassale, Transportation Campaign Director

Florida Rights of Nature Network
Joseph Bonasia, Secretary

Florida Springs Council
Ryan Smart, Executive Director

Florida State University Democrats
Alicia Camaliche, Vice President

Florida Veterans for Common Sense
Gene Jones, President

Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Ron Seifer, President

Friends of Split Oak Forest
Valerie Anderson, President

Friends of the Everglades
Eve Samples, Executive Director

Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge
Nicholas Lefkow, President

Friends of the Wekiva River
Mike Cliburn, Secretary

GAEA Guides - Guided Kayak Nature Tours
Connie Langmann, Owner

Goodwin Lumber Company, Inc.
Carol Goodwin, President

Green Horizon Land Trust
Marian Ryan, President

Hands Along the Water
Samantha Gentrup, Executive Director

Healthy Gulf
Christian Wagley, Coastal Organizer, Florida-Alabama

Highlands County Audubon Society
Dale L. Gillis, President

Hillsborough County-Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida
Russ Conn, Chair

Independent Party of Florida
Ernie Bach, State Chairman

Indivisible St Johns FL
Mary Lawrence, Founder

International Dark Sky Association Florida
Diana Umpierre, Chair

Jefferson Progress & Preservation Committee
Michele Arceneaux, President

League of Women Voters Florida
Dr. Judy Hushon, Natural Resources Chair

League of Women Voters of Florida of North Pinellas County
David Sillman, Action Group Co-Chair

Lee Future
Don Eslick, Founding Member

ManaSota-88, Inc.
Glenn Compton, Chairman

Miakka Community Club
Becky Ayech, President

Miami-Dade Democratic Environmental Caucus
Dustin Thaler, Vice President

Mountain Lion Foundation
Debra Chase, CEO

One Protest
Adam Sugalski, Executive Director

Our Santa Fe River, Inc.
Michael Roth, President

Pelican Island Audubon Society
Ricard Baker, Ph.D., President

Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida
Marybeth Dunn, MPH, Executive Director

Progress Florida
Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director

Rainbow River Conservation, Inc.
Burt Eno, President

Rebah Farm
Carol Ahearn, Owner

Rum 138
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Owner

Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation
Leah Reidenbach, Research Associate

Save Orange County, Inc.
Kelly J Semrad, Vice Chair

Save Our Creeks
Carole Fields, Vice President

Save the Manatee Club
Anne Harvey, Staff Attorney

Sierra Club
Frank Jackalone, Chapter Director

Silver Springs Alliance, Inc.
Chris Spontak, President

South Florida Wildlands Association
Matthew Schwartz, Executive Director

Speak Up Wekiva, Inc.
Chuck O'Neal, President

Stonecrab Alliance
Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., Co-founder

Tampa Bay Climate Alliance
Brooke Erret, Florida Organizer

The Climate Reality Project, Gainesville FL Chapter
Deborah Scheuer, Chapter Chair

The Common Ground Project
Lisa Perry, Executive Director

United Waterfowlers Florida
Newton Cook, President

University of Tampa College Democrats
Claire Breeden, President

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS)
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper

Xtinction Rebellion
Warren Whistler, Coordinator-Tampa Bay

100 Thousand Poets for Change
Terri Carrion & Michael Rothenberg, Co-founders


Link to letter:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zFP3NWt2aGb2guf-9Prdf78gx25tpfoL/view?usp=sharing

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