Spending on climate resilience is needed



The seas are inexorably rising, and the Florida Legislature is addressing this issue by creating a resilient Florida grant program within the Department of Environmental Protection. The bill creating the program, the Senate Bill of 1954, was passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate. Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it.

It’s millions of dollars for levees, storm reinforcement and other infrastructure projects that will better prepare us for a future in which we endure increased flooding, stronger storms and higher seas.

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The program manages resilience infrastructure in a traditional Republican fashion by distributing block grants to cities and counties, subject to state funding. Democrats won’t like the way the Legislature chose to fund these grants – by making permanent its annual tradition of plundering the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, sending much of the money set aside for housing to combat the effects of climate change.

Still, given that the Republican-controlled legislature has used affordable housing money to shore up the budget almost every year since the Great Recession, spending that money on tackling climate change is a positive step.

Additional funds for resilience projects are on the way, and just as Democrats and Republicans in the Florida legislature supported SB 1954, both sides should also support these projects which could be funded by the infrastructure plan of the United States. ‘Biden administration.

On April 12, just four days after the Florida Senate passed the 1954 SB, sending it to DeSantis, the White House released state-by-state figures as part of its US Jobs Plan which highlighted the bridges and roads in each state in poor condition, the percentages of households without broadband access, the number of extreme weather events and other parameters.

Florida experienced 22 extreme weather events from 2010 to 2020 at a cost of $ 100 billion. Only Texas, California and Hawaii were hit with larger bills due to extreme weather conditions, and in the case of Texas and Hawaii, the number of events – 67 and 145, respectively – eclipsed that of Florida.

Extreme weather conditions, such as sea level rise, will only become a greater threat when climate change takes its toll on the planet. The Biden administration has set aside $ 50 billion specifically for resilient infrastructure. This time around, it’s the Republicans who won’t like the source of the funding, as the administration intends to raise corporate tax rates from 21% to 28%, which would still be lower than the rates. highest corporate tax rate before Trump’s 2017 tax cut.

Just as Democrats in the Florida Legislature may endorse a Republican plan to create a block grants-centric resilience infrastructure program while disapproving of the funding source, Washington Republicans should also be able to support the Biden administration’s US employment plan while having a grim view. tax increases, as the party has always done.

What everyone should agree on – something they should all be able to work on together, as the Florida Legislature did by unanimously passing SB 1954 – is that these expenses are necessary, now. A 2020 Urban Land Institute report found that for every dollar spent now to adapt to the effects of climate change in South Florida, the region would save two dollars in the long run. In other words, the repair costs much more than the preparation.


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