TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – The 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill ended in millions of gallons of oil sweeping across the Gulf of Mexico and billions of dollars of clean-up costs. In 2015, $3.25 billion of an $18.7 billion settlement went to Florida for damages owed to the spill.
The Triumph Gulf Coast Trust Fund within the Department of Economic Opportunity was created in 2017 to deposit funds from the settlement. $2 billion was set to be disbursed to the state over 18 years, while an initial payment of $400 million was given to the state.
According to the Senate’s Professional Staff of the Appropriations Committee, Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc. received $300 million from the initial payment, with $106.7 million to be given to Florida each year from 2019 to 2033, and $80 million to be transferred to Triumph Gulf Coast yearly. The rest of the money given each year from the settlement, $26.7 million annually, will be deposited into the General Revenue Fund.
Under state law, all state trust funds must be terminated within four years of initial creation unless exempted by operation of law or by the constitution.
The funds deposited into the trust fund are used by Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc. for projects in eight Florida counties that were “disproportionately affected” by the spill. Those counties include Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Wakulla.
Project or program awards must be used for economic recovery, diversification, and enhancement of the aforementioned counties.
The passage of SB 7054 re-creates the Triumph Gulf Coast Trust Fund within the DEO without any modifications. The law took immediate effect upon being signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, extending the lie of the trust fund per Florida’s constitutional requirements.
Additionally, state analysis says the trust fund is exempt from the general revenue service charge, normally an 8% charge normally paid from the General Revenue Fund and appropriated from all income from revenue deposited in trust funds.