Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Florida senate approves bill that could provide over a billion dollars to Northwest Florida

The Florida Senate unanimously approved a bill Monday that could bring over a billion dollars to the eight Panhandle counties that were hit hardest by the BP oil spill.

The measure approved Monday would require that 75 percent of all BP restoration payments coming to Florida go to the area that was hit the hardest by the oil disaster, which are the 8 counties between Escambia and Wakulla Counties.

The money would be held in a trust fund managed by a nonprofit group called Triumph Gulf Coast.

A similar bill was approved by the Florida house earlier this year, but it will have to be re-approved with some changes, and then the measure will have to be signed by the governor.

Once approved, 300 million dollars will move into the trust fund immediately.

Another $1.2 billion dollars is anticipated to be paid to the nonprofit in annual installments through 2033.

The legislation requires the county commission in each of the eight counties to solicit proposed projects and programs which they would then provide to Triumph Gulf Coast.

Triumph Gulf Coast, must allocate at least five percent of the initial $300 million dollars to projects in each county, and must allocate at least four percent of future settlement funds to projects in each county.

The remaining funds are unrestricted and will be allocated by Triumph Gulf Coast for larger, more regional projects.