The Senate budget panel approved a bill that would fold Florida’s water management districts into the rest of the state’s budget, and align their finances with other state agencies. The measure would cut districts’ budgets by an average of 30 percent, for a total of more than $210 million.
The largest, the South Florida Water Management District, would be cut by $120 million. The Southwest Florida Water Management District, which includes the area around Tampa Bay, would absorb a 36 percent cut.
Water management districts are authorized under the state constitution to levy property taxes to fund their budgets, though the legislature has to authorize them.
The Senate measure would cut the budgets even deeper than proposed by Gov. Rick Scott, who proposed a $178 million “property tax holiday” for districts in his budget plan.