Nowhere do competing interests engage in lustier arguments over how much land should be in public ownership than in Florida.
Today, government owns nearly 50 percent of South Florida -- that’s 5.5 million acres. Some 27 percent of the state's total land mass is owned by some government entity.
The State of Florida has acquired more than 683,000 acres under the Florida Forever program. Combined with the purchases of Florida Forever's forerunner, Preservation 2000 program, Florida Forever’s forerunner, the state has acquired more than 2.5 million acres since 1990. You can find a complete statistical abstract for conservation land acquisitions here.
Environmentalists, citing the development and population boom over the past 50 years that has made Florida the third largest state in the nation, favor purchasing as much land for future generations as possible -- even if that land has no immediate purpose in a conservation plan.
They also argue that since 2010 when Rick Scott was first elected governor, the purchase of conservation land has fallen off dramatically while the population continues to rise. And Floridians showed they favor buying land because they overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment 1.
On the other side, fiscal conservatives, taxpayer organizations, free marketeers and conservatives generally want government to buy land only prudently, only specifically and for a necessary purpose. Every time government goes land shopping, they say, it takes private property off the tax rolls, creating a need for higher taxes on remaining property.
Sure, some land should be publicly owned, they say, but before government spends more money on more land, it should use the money and property it already owns to finish Everglades restoration and address other problems statewide. They say government is doing a poor job of maintaining the land it has.
So, our question for you here is this: