February 26, 2024

Florida Budget Proposals in Brief: Environment

This post is part of the “Florida Budget Proposals in Brief” blog series, where FPI highlights some of the key components of the House and Senate budget proposals — where they align, how they differ, and what it means for Floridians, communities, and the state economy. Overall, the Senate and House budget proposals for FY 2024-25 are quite similar. Unlike previous years, the joint budget conference committees will not have many significant differences to negotiate. Still, there are some notable variances, and the funding decisions have both fiscal and policy implications for the state.


The Florida Senate passed its fiscal year (FY) 2024-25 budget proposal (SB 2500), which totals $115.9 billion and represents a $578 million (or a 0.50 percent) reduction from the current budget.[1] The Florida House’s FY 2024-25 budget proposal (HB 5001) totals $115.5 billion and represents a $969 million (or a 0.83 percent) reduction compared to the current budget.

The next step in the budget process will be for a Joint Budget Commission to meet and reconcile any differences to propose a General Appropriations Act (GAA) for FY 2024-25. Both chambers will then vote on the proposed GAA, and once it is passed, it will be sent to the governor, who can make line item vetoes and sign the bill into law. The Legislature can then override vetoes if two-thirds of the members, in each chamber, vote to do so. The final budget will be enacted as of July 1, 2024.


Florida Forever 

Florida Forever is a critical program that allows the state to acquire and preserve ecologically important land and prevent future environmental problems, including over-development. The current budget allocates $126.2 million to Florida Forever, the highest appropriation to the program in 15 years. Both the House and Senate FY 2024-25 proposals elevate funding even more, recommending $158 million and $414.3 million,[2] respectively.

Since the Great Recession, legislators have not maintained Florida Forever’s $300-million minimum authorized under the Preservation 2000 Act and voter-passed Amendment 1 (“Florida Water and Land Legacy”) in 2014. Thus, the more impactful and higher Senate proposal of $414.3 million would represent the first time the program has been fully funded since 2009.

Red Tide Mitigation

Red tide (a type of harmful algae bloom) is an abnormal concentration of microscopic plantlike organisms off Florida’s coast that presents a threat to tourism, wildlife, and health. Even at low concentrations, red tide is harmful to people and fish, causing respiratory and skin irritation in the former and potential death in the latter. Concentrations were especially high last spring, and there are concerns warming ocean temperatures will contribute to similar blooms this year.

The current year budget includes $35.9 million for red tide research and grants. For FY 2024-25, both chambers propose red tide funding cuts in the environmental budget. The House proposes $21.4 million (a 40 percent decrease), while the Senate proposes $21.9 million (a 39 percent decrease).[3] These proposed cuts are steeper than the governor’s proposal, which recommends $25.6 million for red tide concerns (a 28 percent decrease).

Notably, both chambers have legislation moving (SB 1360/HB 1565) that would allow for additional funding for red tide technology, so budget negotiations will determine the Legislature’s priorities. Amid recent spikes in red tide that could negatively impact Floridians, wildlife, and tourism, cuts to red tide projects are ill-advised. Red tide has been a threat to Florida for centuries and will remain so.



[1] For analysis of top-line budget figures, FPI uses the current General Appropriations Act (FY 2023-24), including vetoes, for sections 1-7, which totals $116.5 billion. However, this does not include back-of-the-bill sections.  For the current GAA, including vetoes, plus back-of-the-bill appropriations, supplemental appropriations, and transfer totals, please see the Florida Legislature’s “Fiscal Analysis in Brief: 2023 Legislative Session: Chart 8.”

[2] Line items 1516, 1685, 1686, and 1829 of FY 2024-25 HB 5001 and line items 1516, 1685, and 1829 of FY 2024-25 SB 2500.

[3] Note: The following line items from 2024-25 proposals did not clarify if they include red tide funding so were excluded from FPI’s analysis (red tide is not the only type of harmful algal bloom): HB 5001 line item 1711; line item 2010 in the House, Senate, and Governor’s 2024-25 proposals. Additionally, FPI excluded line items 474 each chamber proposes for the Department of Health to study the health impacts of algae — including red tide, since they are not part of the environmental budget.

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