DeSantis signs Florida budget, vetoes more than $1 billion amid pandemic

Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a $92.2 billion state budget Monday after using his veto powers to cut more than $1 billion from the Legislature-approved spending plan.

State lawmakers passed their version of the budget in mid-March. It included a 3% pay raise, worth $249 million, for all 90,000 state workers and a 7% increase in health insurance premiums.

Although their pay raise survived, DeSantis vetoed about $1 billion from the plan due to the economic fallout from COVID-19. Like other states, Florida is expected to lose billions in tax revenue because of the pandemic. The state reported 5,266 new cases on Monday.

“Everyone understands the circumstances have changed,” DeSantis told reporters at the Capitol on Monday. “I think we all have to realize that none of us will get everything we wanted.”

RELATED: Florida sees 5,266 new cases, increase in percent positivity

The revised budget totals $92.2 billion, provides over $350 million in tax relief and includes more than $1 billion in vetoed spending, DeSantis said.

Here are some highlights:

K-12 Education

The budget allocates $500 million to increase teacher pay, taking the state’s average minimum teacher salary from 26th in the nation to top five.

The budget also includes per student funding of $7,793, an increase of current year spending by $137 per student, DeSantis said.

RELATED: DeSantis announces pay raise for Florida teachers

Higher Education

The budget sets aside $1.3 billion in state operating funding for the Florida College System and $2.7 billion in funding for the State University System, and an increase of $18.9 million in funding for Florida’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This does not include any tuition increases.

Environment

The budget allocates more than $625 million for Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources. 

Transportation and Infrastructure

DeSantis said the budget includes $9.2 billion for the State Transportation Work Program, including $2.5 billion for highway construction, $400.5 million for aviation improvements, $885.5 million for rail/transit projects, $236.4 million for safety initiatives, and $1.3 billion in federal and state funding for communities to respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies. It also puts $10 million toward state-level election oversight activities.

Health and Human Services

The budget sets aside $117.6 million in funding for children and families who receive services through Florida’s child welfare system and $8.7 million in funding to support the Office of Public and Professional Guardianship.

It also includes $138.1 million to fight the opioid epidemic.

Public Safety

The budget allocates $2.3 million to implement the first Statewide Behavioral Threat Assessment strategy in the country and more than $8.1 million that will go toward upgrading Florida’s crime databases. It also includes  $6 million to make Florida’s correctional facilities safer and provides funding for pay increases for correctional officers and $17.3 million for a program transitions them from a 12-hour shift to an 8.5-hour shift.

Reserves

  • $2.3 billion in unallocated General Revenue
    • Includes projected reversions of $781.6 million. This does not include adjustments for COVID-19 revenue losses.
  • $1.7 billion in the Budget Stabilization Fund
  • $1.5 billion in unallocated Trust Funds
  • $0.8 billion in Tobacco reserves
  • $6.3 billion in Total Reserves

“Despite the present challenges Florida faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget ensures the state’s priorities are protected and funded,” said DeSantis. “Our current economic landscape is vastly different since the Legislature passed this budget in March. As Governor, I must remain a mindful steward of taxpayer dollars. This budget reflects a steadfast commitment to Floridians by safeguarding important investments in key areas including education, the environment, infrastructure, public safety and more. As we move forward with our Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery, we will overcome the adversities before us and emerge stronger than before.”

For more details on the budget, click HERE.

To view the veto list, click HERE.

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