Growth Management Showdown in Florida Legislature

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Florida homebuilders can hardly keep up with demand as an estimated 800-plus people move to the state every day. Roads are clogged and schools are overflowing. Now, frustration over how to manage that growth is boiling over at the Capitol.

House members are bickering over their own proposal. Rep. Randy Johnson is trying to convince his colleagues to go in a new direction, giving local communities more than nine billion state dollars over the next decade to fund smart growth.

The catch is the communities would have to come up with matching funds to tap into the cash, and the no-new-taxes house won't support a change to make it easier for local governments to raise their own sales or property taxes.

But the state Senate is reluctant to pass new regulations on to communities without also giving them the option of raising taxes. Critics call it another unfunded mandate.

Sen. Steve Geller, (D) Hallandale Beach, says, "To say, like the House bill does, that we’re not going to give you much money and we expect you to raise a lot of money, but we’re not going to let you raise it, seems sort of to be a contradiction."

With House and Senate now taking up battle positions and only eight days left, growth management may go down in flames this session, and the traffic will keep getting worse.

The Sierra Club of Florida says the proposed growth management legislation in both the House and Senate are more about building roads than about actually managing growth.