Scott Weighs In On Local Use Of BP Money

July 13, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday advised a non-profit organization that will help administer BP oil-spill settlement money to use the funds in a “transparent” manner that has the best return on investment for Florida.

“In reviewing proposals, I ask that you prioritize projects that create good jobs for families in Northwest Florida, diversify the economy, and have measurable performance standards to determine the projects’ success over time,” Scott wrote to Triumph Gulf Coast board Chairman Allan Bense, a former state House speaker from Panama City.

Lawmakers this spring grappled with how to use money from the settlement that stems from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Bills signed into law (HB 7077, HB 7079) directed that $300 million of the $400 million already received by the state go to eight Panhandle counties heavily impacted by the disaster. The legislation eventually will steer, through the Triumph Gulf Coast organization, three-fourths of the $2 billion the state is slated to receive over the next 13 years to Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla and Walton counties.

The legislation set minimums for how much each county will receive and expanded the Triumph Gulf Coast board from five to seven members, with the goal of providing more representation to less-populated counties.

In his letter, Scott outlined that the money can be used in the eight counties for property tax-rate reductions; local match requirements with the Rural Infrastructure Fund; workforce training; and local government grants. Money can also go to public infrastructure projects shown to do such things as “enhance economic recovery,” Scott wrote.

by The News Service of Florida

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