DeSantis Signs $101.5 Billion Florida Budget With $1,000 Checks
(Bloomberg) -- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a $101.5 billion budget that draws on federal stimulus funds as well as revenue collections that have exceeded expectations.
The spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes increased spending on kindergarten through 12th-grade education and money dedicated for environmental-protection initiatives like Everglades restoration and water-quality improvements. It also cuts levies by $169 million in an already low-tax state, including through three sales-tax holidays.
The total budget is about $9.2 billion over the current year, boosted by $6.9 billion in federal funds. A portion of that money will go to insure access to early childhood education services and give teachers and first responders $1,000 checks. More than 175,000 full-time classroom teachers and 3,000 principals will get that payment.
“We did all this while maintaining strong fiscal reserves and lowering taxes to make sure Florida families benefit this year and for decades to come,” DeSantis, a Republican, said in a statement. The state has $9.5 billion of reserves across various funds, about 9% of the current budget.
The state of roughly 21 million people is slated to receive about $8.8 billion of federal stimulus from the American Rescue Plan. DeSantis has criticized that allocation, saying the government’s distribution favors Democratic-leaning states that he characterized as having stricter lockdown measures during the pandemic.
“If you were a lockdown state with high unemployment, you got more money than your per-capita basis,” the governor said in a press conference Wednesday. “We had lower unemployment, so Florida got a lot less.”
The upcoming budget includes an increase of $50 million to childhood education which will go toward a goal of raising minimum salaries for teachers to $47,500. For higher education, the Florida College System will receive $1.3 billion of state operating funding and the State University System will see $2.8 billion. More than $126 million is designated for the state’s historically black colleges and universities. The bill doesn’t include tuition increases for public colleges and universities.
The budget establishes the Resilient Florida program which will provide $100 million annually in grants to state and local entities for projects to address the impacts of rising sea levels, intensified storms and localized flooding.
DeSantis vetoed $1.5 billion of spending that the state Legislature had appropriated.
That sum included $1.35 billion from federal funds received under the American Rescue Plan that state lawmakers had proposed to set aside for emergency preparedness and future budget needs. Those funds will be redirected toward other areas, the governor said in the press conference.
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