Governor Rick Scott's Everglades proposal brings initial applause

The Everglades Coalition, which brings together the largest yearly gathering of environmentalists in our state, applauded Gov. Rick Scott Thursday when he called for more money for Everglade restoration.

However, environmentalists said they remain skeptical about the depth of his commitment.

Thursday marked the first time Gov. Scott spoke to the coalition.

"The Everglades are a national treasure, an economic engine, a job creator and the future of Florida depends on its health," Scott said Thursday.

Gov. Scott is proposing to spend $40 million on Everglades restoration this coming year.

That's twice his pledge from last year, but still far less than the funding under former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

Environmentalists are skeptical after Gov. Scott's first year in office included a rollback of growth management laws and fights over water quality standards.

"Last year's legislative session, which was his first, was catastrophic for Everglades restoration," said Dawn Shirreffs, the co-chair of the Everglades Coalition.

Gov. Scott is trying to reset that relationship, in the face of skepticism.

"What you try to do is balance every dollar you have and spread it around, and focus on the areas you can have an impact," said Scott.

Political analyst Brian Crowley said Gov. Scott realizes he must reach beyond his base of support in the business community.

"The businessman who thought he could run government as a business. He's quickly learned that there are certain things that you can't do as a governor that you can do as a CEO," said Crowley.

This is a lesson environmentalists vow to fight to keep on Gov. Scott's political radar.

"People came to Florida for a different reason before. They came for the clean water, the fishing, the scenery and we're losing that," said Sierra Club member Matthew Schwartz.

The governor's funding request for the Everglades still has to go through the legislature, which begins its session next week.

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