TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Governor Ron DeSantis called a late press conference to announce he’d put pen to paper on the state budget.
The Florida governor signed the state budget Friday. (Michael Rivera / CC BY-SA 3.0 )
“I think it’s a fiscally responsible budget," Governor DeSantis said. "I think we put taxpayers first but the key issues that Floridians care about are things like environment, things like education, things like transportation. We were there to really make a difference”
The final budget came in at $90.9 billion, just meeting his promise to keep the spending plan under $91 billion. A total of $131 million was vetoed, but the Governor says it was nothing personal.
“I think we worked well together, so there wasn’t a need for me to, you know, exact any type of retribution, because the legislature didn’t work for me,” Governor DeSantis said.
Construction projects for college campuses was one main area where the Governor made cuts.
“We’re building a lot of buildings and that’s okay, but I think that what’s really gonna take us to the next level is spending some of that money on more faculty, increasing salaries for people you’re trying to recruit," Governor DeSantis said.
While the budget included just $121 million in tax cuts, the Governor upped number to $400 million, by including the reduction in local school taxes to offset rising property values.
“It’s just like if I make more money next year, I’ll pay more under the same rates and so I feel that we acted to reduce the taxes that would’ve otherwise been due under the law,” Governor DeSantis said.
After the Governor signs the budget he says he plans to travel the state to tout some of the highlights.
Here's a breakdown of the budget from the Governor's office:
Environment and Water Resources
The budget supports major reforms implemented by Governor DeSantis in Executive Order 19-12 to ensure the protection of Florida’s environment and water resources. Most notably, it includes more than the $625 million the Governor requested for Everglades restoration and initiatives to protect the state’s water resources, a major first step toward Governor DeSantis’ goal to invest $2.5 billion in those areas over the next four years. Within the over-$625 million investment, the budget includes more than $400 million for Everglades restoration - the highest amount of Everglades funding ever, as well as $100 million for springs restoration, $50 million for targeted water quality improvements, $40 million for alternative water supply, and $25 million to combat blue-green algae and red tide.
Governor DeSantis believes that every student, regardless of their zip code or family circumstances, should have the opportunity to receive a great education. That is why the budget includes key investments in K-12 education, including per student funding of $7,672, an increase of current year spending by $242 per student. The budget also funds K-12 public schools at the highest amount ever with $21.8 billion in total funding and $12.5 billion in state funding.
Upon taking office, Governor DeSantis made hurricane recovery a top priority, even visiting Mexico Beach to tour Hurricane Michael damage on his first day as Governor. Although Florida was prepared and responded immediately to limit the loss of life and property, the aftermath of the storm continues to impact a great number of Floridians. For the two most recent hurricanes to strike Florida, including Hurricanes Irma and Michael, the state of Florida is projected to spend $2.9 billion on hurricane preparedness and recovery. $1.1 billion for Hurricane Irma and $1.8 billion for Hurricane Michael.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Florida’s ability to be able to grow and prosper is large in part due to having one of the most reliable transportation systems in the country. To ensure this, $9.7 billion has been appropriated for the State Transportation Work Program. This provides $2.7 billion for the highway construction, which includes 125.7 new lane miles to expand transportation system capacity, $1.1 billion for bridge repairs and replacements and $40 million for the Tamiami Trail Restoration Project, which will assist with drawing down a $60 million federal grant to fully fund the project.
Health and Human Services
Governor DeSantis hopes that all Floridians are able to lead long, healthy and productive lives and understands the importance of helping those in need, including our most vulnerable who are unable to help themselves. With that in mind, the budget includes more than $123 million in total funding to fight the opioid epidemic and $106 million to provide funding for services to children and families who depend on Florida’s child welfare system. Furthermore, the budget provides more than $70 million to serve individuals on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities home and community-based waiver program.
Keeping Florida safe is one of Governor DeSantis’ most important responsibilities as Florida’s highest elected official. With that, the Bold Vision for a Brighter Future budget invests more than $18.6 million to expand and enhance Florida’s crime databases, provides more than $28 million to fund prevention programs for at-risk youth and appropriates $22.5 million for Florida’s military presence and families.
Florida continues to maintain strong reserves. Reserve amounts included in the budget are:
• $1.17 billion in unallocated General Revenue
• $1.57 billion in the Budget Stabilization Fund
• $1.61 billion in unallocated Trust Funds
• $0.88 billion in Tobacco Reserves
• $0.18 billion in anticipated Hurricane Reimbursements
• $5.41 billion Total Reserves