Major Tea Party groups around Florida and leading GOP lawmakers are pushing back against a plan to spend over $2.4 billion on an unnecessary and wasteful project to build a massive water retention pond in south Florida that could soon be the largest boondoggle in state history.
Incoming senate president Joe Negron is fast-tracking a bill to take large tracts of central Florida farmland away from agriculture companies and mom and pop farmers through a controversial law known as eminent domain, which allows the government to seize private property if it is deemed to be in the publics interest. Many consider the law to be unconstitutional and an extreme example of government gone awry.
Senate Bill 10 calls for the acquisition of 60,000 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area from farmers who do not want to sell their land. SB10 would require Florida taxpayers to pay at least $1.2 billion of the cost of the reservoir project through the issuance of bonds. The other $1.2 billion would be paid by the federal government, but that would still need approval from the U.S. Congress. If Congress does not approve of the plan, Floridians might have to pay the full tab, which many experts in the industry believe will increase to over $4 billion before the job would be completed. The Florida government already owns an astonishing 45% of all of the land in the state and has plenty of space for a reservoir on property it already owns.
TEA Party leaders from all across Florida converged on the state capital recently to address a senate committee during a public hearing about SB10. Supporters of senator Joe Negron and SB10 were allowed in to the meeting and also allowed to make comments to committee members but the TEA Party organizations were banned from the event and not allowed to make any statements to the senators, attendees or to the media about the many people they represent who oppose the bill.
After he was barred from entering the senate meeting, South Florida TEA Party leader Everett Wilkinson stated in a press release, “Having witnessed the testimony of so many concerned officials and citizens from across Florida, I am disappointed at the committee’s motion to support a 2.4 billion dollar bill that neither acknowledges the resulting economic devastation to affected communities nor addresses the immediate environmental crisis facing our State. Further, it puts no force toward imperatives that have already been determined as essential to addressing the need, which includes the critical restoration of the Herbert Hoover dike. The reality is we see this as an extremely fiscally irresponsibly strategy that will destroy so much of the local agricultural economy on which we depend and that doesn’t hold to account the existing projects that require completion and urgent State attention. As conservatives, we must oppose this bill. It’s money we don’t have and don’t need to spend for something that won’t fix the problem. Sen. Negron should be ashamed of this bill. We owe taxpayers better legislation.”
In an effort to get their message out to the public, the South Florida TEA Party and a coalition of Florida businesses and concerned citizens have collaborated to launch FloridiansAgainstWaste.org to inform the public about the SB10 billion dollar boondoggle.