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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Keep donations coming for native wildflowers - tell the Legislature to repeal the new specialty tag fees!

Dear Friends,

The State Wildflower license plate – which funds native wildflower research, education and planting – is in trouble.

Since September 2009, sales of new license plates have fallen dramatically. In January alone, our new tag sales were down 76 percent, with 66 new plates sold. In contrast, 272 new plates were sold in January 2009.

The downturn can be blamed on the state’s increasing of the specialty plate fee from $14 to $33, which began Sept. 1. Buyers pay that on top of the $15 donation made to the Florida Wildflower Foundation. Though State Wildflower plate sales were holding their own in this economy, the price motorists must pay to have one is now more than the market can bear.

More than $2.2 million in donations has been collected via the State Wildflower plate since 2001. The money underwrites many important projects, including native wildflower seed germination research, the Real Florida Gardener retail guide, native schoolyard gardens and the immensely popular wildflower/butterfly brochure designed by the Florida Natural History Museum.

The Foundation had taken in an average of $260,000 in tag donations annually. With the decrease in plate sales, it will collect up to $100,000 less in 2010 if the trend continues.

Ironically, the Legislature increased tag fees to generate revenue to help fill a gaping budget deficit. However, because of lagging sales of all specialty plates, the state of Florida stands to take in about $1 million less this year from the program if the sale trend continues.

The Florida Wildflower Foundation needs your help to keep this important funding source in place for Florida’s native wildflowers and grasses. Please contact your state House representative and Senator and ask them to repeal the increase in specialty license plate fees during the present legislative session.

Thank you!

The Florida Wildflower Foundation

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