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Ag Commissioner Putnam Blasts Negron's Land Buy Plan, Outlines 2017 Priorities

State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the state should complete existing projects before spending money to for water storage in Central Florida. A 60,000  acre parcel of land is the centerpiece of Senate President Joe Negron’s bid to stop polluted water from fouling rivers in his district.

Negron’s plan to buy land South of Lake Okeechobee is already running into roadblocks and State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has added another.

“There are better ways to spend $2.5 billion  for water quality and everglades restoration," he told lawmakers Tuesday during AP Day at the Capitol.

Putnam added his voice to the list of opposed Tuesday. He says current water projects for the area still aren’t complete. 

“You put all these engineers in a room, you put the federal and state partners in a room ,and they come up with these big plans and they only seem to last until the next election when someone else wants to airdrop in a new boxcar load of cash for the next shiny solution.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran says he’s against borrowing money to fund the project, and Governor Rick Scott left out the purchase in his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Negron is all in for the project and says it’s his job to convince lawmakers on the merits.

Meanwhile, Putnam wants the state to protect more land from development, and increase funding for economic development in rural counties. Putnam, a potential 2018 gubernatorial candidate, says rural communities are often overlooked.

"It’s an example of where singles and doubles makes a big difference for a community. A community where adding a handful of jobs that wouldn’t rise to the top of the radar for our traditional job agencies, is a big deal for that community.”

Putnam says he believes there should be a focus on career readiness and he wants to remove what he calls the stigma against trades like truck driving—a job that’s in high demand in the state.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.