The Florida Supreme Court dealt a blow to environmentalists and landowners yesterday by ruling that property owners in the state must continue to foot most of the bill for Everglades restoration, despite overwhelming support for a 1996 amendment to the state constitution that would have made polluters pay instead. The court determined that the amendment, which was approved by two-thirds of state voters as part of a plan to restore the Everglades, was too vague for the state legislature to be able to act on. Environmentalists contend that state lawmakers purposely failed to implement the amendment because they are beholden to the sugar industry, which helped engineer the defeat of a second part of the plan that would have imposed a tax on sugar growers. The ruling means that, under a 1994 law, funds for an $800 million water-treatment system will continue to come from everyday tax-paying property owners.
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